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Bush, Peru’s Garcia press for congressional passage of US-Peruvian free trade pact

International Herald Tribune

Bush, Peru’s Garcia press for congressional passage of U.S.-Peruvian free trade pact

The Associated Press

23 April 2007

WASHINGTON: President George W. Bush and his guest from Peru, President Alan Garcia, urged the Congress on Monday to pass the pending U.S.-Peruvian free trade agreement.

The agreement has been negotiated but Democratic leaders in Congress, who control both the Senate and the House of Representatives, have said it needs further protections for workers before it can be taken up for congressional action.

"The president is here to urge the Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, to pass the free trade agreement with Peru, and I urge them to vote ’yes,’" Bush said.

For his part, Garcia said the agreement "is vital for our country. It is fundamental to continue this path of growth and social redistribution that we have started in my country."

Garcia became president last June of a country where more than half the people were surviving on less than $2 (€1.50). Growth was about 6.7 percent in 2005, but Garcia said Peru now has "achieved an 8 percent annual growth" and this year expects no more than 1 percent inflation.

He said the free trade agreement "would help us keep and maintain a strong democracy, a democracy that takes care of the poorest and that provides work to the unemployed," and "it is important to show the world that a democracy with investment leads to development."

He praised the United States for an idealistic tradition of help for the world, "and I am sure that both Republicans and Democrats would understand that this is key to the mission the United States has for the world."

Garcia and Bush spoke after holding talks in the White House. Bush said he "expressed our country’s deepest condolences to the student, the Peruvian student who lost his life on the campus at Virginia Tech."

Peruvian Daniel Perez Cueva, 21, was gunned down in a French classroom, one of 32 students and teachers killed last Monday in a rampage by a student who then killed himself.