A Peaceful Year

Blessed are the peacemakers—for they shall trade freely. The first anniversary of the historic peace agreement settling the century-old border dispute between Peru and Ecuador passed in October with little outward appearance of the quiet revolution unfolding along the newly demarcated frontier, observes the centrist Hoy of Quito (Oct. 26).

“We no longer treat the frontier with Peru like any other frontier,” Hoy writes. “There are so many efforts to convert it from a border line into a geographic region for development…All the negative energy expended by the two countries in confrontation seems to have been transformed into energy for building bi-national integration” that holds the rich promise of “electrification exchanges, irrigation of immense agricultural zones, petroleum transport, and complementary commercial links.”

On the other side of the border, Lima’s conservative El Comercio (Oct. 26) notes that the implementation of the joint Agreement on Acceleration and Deepening of Free Trade sets an ambitious timetable to lift most import duties in bilateral commerce by the end of 2001, with about 90 percent of product categories already moving tariff-free across the border.

“Businessmen in Ecuador and Peru now find an open path to significantly increase current trade flows, create enterprises with mixed capital, and establish other modern forms of cooperation including joint efforts to penetrate third markets,” El Comercio adds.

The potential benefits of free trade to the economies of both countries could prove substantial, particularly if they realize the declared goal of the Ecuadoran and Peruvian governments to expand bilateral trade from little more than $300 million in 1998 to $6 billion by 2008, reports Madrid’s Agencia EFE (Oct. 28). Beyond the economic potential of the pact, Presidents Jamil Mahuad of Ecuador and Alberto Fujimori of Peru “have achieved an important gain: At last, they have succeeded in disarming the psychology of confrontation that in the past has guided political and historical thinking in both countries.”