Peru’s GDP up 18.21% in March as industry hits its stride

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LIMA — Peru’s economic activity shot up 18.21% in March compared to single-figure contractions over the previous two months and a 16.76% drop in March last year as its key sectors hit their stride following lengthy lockdowns since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the government said on Saturday.

Production in the first quarter reached overall growth of 3.80% and contracted 9.48% in the 12 months through March, statistics agency INEI said in its monthly economic activity report.

INEI said the March figure was a result of eight of the country’s key industrial areas – manufacturing, construction, mining and hydrocarbons, financial and insurance, commerce, telecommunications and transportation sectors – beating March 2020 production levels. The agricultural sector and five others however registered declines in production, it added.

The world’s second largest copper producer saw a 15.37% expansion in the mining and hydrocarbons sector, due to higher volumes obtained of copper, zinc, molybdenum, silver, iron, gold and tin.

INEI highlighted that productive activity was frozen for 15 days last March because of the coronavirus but that the mining industry, which produces 60% of Peru’s exports, had been showing “signs of gradual recovery” since the last quarter of 2020, thanks to a national economic reactivation plan which saw the government provide financing to companies to meet COVID-19-related debts.

Peru is at present engulfed in a second wave of the pandemic that is worse than the first, with the latest figures from the Ministry of Health reporting 65,608 deaths and 1.87 million cases of the virus. This time however, Peru has not suspended productive industry.

The country’s economy minister said last month that GDP would grow 10% this year, the fastest rate registered since 1994, following a plunge of 11.6% in 2020. (Reporting by Manuel Farias Salazar, writing by Aislinn Laing, editing by Chris Reese)

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