More than 500 years ago, Christopher Columbus united the old world with a new one; and Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, inherited a series of treasures, such as the first cathedral, the first city hall and port in the Americas, which it has taken splendid care of.
In this new millennium, the Dominican Republic has a new role: to assume its role as a new economic star in Latin America, inclusive and prosperous. This is what I see in the repeated visits I have been making to the Dominican Republic in order to find opportunities for Peruvian companies in the field of exports of educational services, tourism and investments; and to motivate the authorities and businessmen of both countries to walk together towards the prosperity of our peoples.
Integration in Latin America through trade and investment is the path that produces prosperity. Peru has been an example of this. In my country, I had the privilege of being first vice-president of the Republic in 2002, and also minister of state; and together with parliament and the business sector, we created the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR) and the National Competitiveness Council. Both entities were responsible for triggering economic growth in my beloved country and charting a path towards greater productivity and competitiveness.
According to ECLAC, this year Peru will be the second fastest growing economy in Latin America. Our exports will reach an all-time record of over US$ 50 billion, thanks to the trade agreements that Peru has in place with countries that represent 80% of the world’s GDP and preferential access to 40% of the world’s population.
This integration process adds to the promotion of Peru in the world. In 2010, MINCETUR created the great Peru Brand, which presents a millenary country with more than 5,000 years of cultural richness and Peruvians who, guided by the stars and the sea, reached Polynesia. A biodiverse country, a source of functional and healthy foods, the basis of our exquisite cuisine designed within the reach of all budgets and tastes, considered one of the best in the world, with our wonderful Pia Leon at the head, the best chef in the world in 2021.
This process was accompanied by the channeling of our genetic creativity through a public policy of entrepreneurship and innovation, which steadily allowed us to create value chains in agriculture, fishing, mining, tourism and, recently, in the export of human capital-intensive services, responsible for more than 3 million decent and formal jobs.
By way of example, 20 years ago we exported US$ 700 million in agricultural products, mainly coffee and cocoa. By 2021 we will export close to US$ 10 billion, mainly superfoods such as blueberries, avocados, grapes, citrus, asparagus, ginger, quinoa, high-end coffees and value-added cocoa, among more than 400 other products and their presentations.
Today our country has the pending task of introducing improvements to a successful model of economic growth, which at the time overcame challenges such as terrorism, but which clearly was not enough for Peruvians in the interior of our country, who, touched by ideologies that failed miserably in economic and social terms in other countries, but thanks to the lamentable corruption in the public service, bet on messages such as “no more poor people in such a rich country”, which can be applied to any reality in our Latin America.
Therefore, in my experience as a politician, social entrepreneur and educator, I believe that the only possible antidote to ensure inclusive development and eliminate failed ideologies in our Latin America is education.
This component of the competitiveness of countries, so often addressed by the World Bank, the World Economic Forum and dozens of other international institutions, has not been pursued by Latin American leaders with the vision and priority it deserves, and today these countries are plunging their citizens into poverty and despair.
The two-time president of the Republic of Peru, Fernando Belaunde Terry, used to say that the wealth of a country is based on the fair and equitable distribution of knowledge. Here, in the Dominican Republic, great businessmen and educators rightly emphasize that ignorance should not continue to be a title, as well as the joint action of authorities and businessmen to defeat the trilogy of economic, political and spiritual poverty.
In every visit I make to this wonderful country I never tire of congratulating President Abinader, Mayor Mejia, Mayor Jimenez, his outstanding ministers and great entrepreneurs for their commitment to a vaccinated and modern Dominican Republic.