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Garcia, Obama, Panama and more 

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Busy Peruvian President, Latin Ad Spending, US dollar in Panama and Obama and Colombia FTA.

BY CHRONICLE STAFF

Letter from the President
Peruvian President Alan Garcia isn't just sitting idle while hoping for increased foreign investment in his South American country.   In the past few months, he has sent letters to more than 600 companies in the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America, his office revealed last week. One of his key jobs, Garcia says, "is to directly tell all companies in the world they should buy Peruvian products, invest in Peru, bring high-tech machines, build up our country and generate employment in our homeland." He followed up the letters with e-mail, he said. Last year, FDI in Peru reached $5.3 billion, an increase of 54.1 percent from 2006, according to data from ECLAC. That means Peru now barely ranks behind Argentina and significantly ahead of Venezuela.  

Latin Ads: Even More Spending
ZenithOptimedia, the London-based ad agency, has revised up its forecast for advertising expenditure in Latin America this year and next. This year, total a spending in the region should reach $30.9 billion, up from the $29.0 billion ZenithOptimeia had forecasted earlier. Next year, ad spending should grow further to $35.1 billion, up from the $31.9 the ad agency had previously predicted.  

Defending the US dollar in Panama
Steve H Hanke, one of the world's leading currency experts, defends the use of the US dollar in Panama in a letter to the editor published in the Financial Times today. He takes issue with a comment from Wolfgang Münchau last week that "the Irish could use the euro if they wanted to but this would be like Panama using the dollar – a little sad, really.” In a table used with his letter, Hanke points out that Panama's inflation the past 25 years has been an average of 1.22 percent versus 7.01 percent in the European Union and a whopping 75.2 percent in Latin America.  Meanwhile, GDP growth has averaged 7.7 percent the past five years versus 2.5 percent in the EU.  "The table ... indicates just why the US dollar evokes nothing but joy in Panama," Hanke writes.

Obama
, US Mayors and Colombia
U.S. Senator and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was in Miami recently, where he addressed the US Conference of Mayors. While his presence created quite a stir, ironically the same mayors' conference disagreed with Obama on at least one key issue: the US-Colombia FTA. While Obama has voice his opposition to the pact, the mayors' conference ratified a statement that stated that “the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement levels the playing field for U.S. exporters and enhances competition, moving this important economic and geopolitical relationship beyond a one-way preference to reciprocal commitments and full partnership.” It also pointed out that projections show that passage of the Colombia FTA will boost U.S. exports by over $1 billion. “The United States Conference of Mayors supports the speedy negotiation and passage of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement,” the mayors said in a resolution adopted at the conference last week. Meanwhile, Obama's rival, presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain was scheduled to visit Colombia this week, where he planned to voice strong support for the Colombia FTA.

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