Peru’s economy growing at healthy clip despite social unrest, minister says

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While weeks of deadly protests have affected some sectors, particularly tourism, minister Alex Contreras said, the economy could grow “close to” 4% this year, while the Peruvian sol remains the most stable currency in the region.

Contreras said the economy is still expected to grow 3% in the first quarter of this year, maintaining a projection from last month.

Nonetheless, protests have already caused 2 billion soles ($516.65 million) in damages to production and 3 billion soles in infrastructure damages, President Dina Boluarte said on Tuesday in a separate briefing.

Attempts to manage the economic impact of the unrest, which began following the ouster and detention of her predecessor, former President Pedro Castillo in December, include the $1.55 billion plan announced late last year.

Targeting the regions most affected by the protests, the plan includes the expansion of welfare provisions such as pensions, soup kitchens and access to natural gas in homes as well as public works, and investments in mining and agriculture.

Contreras added Tuesday that Peru was looking to promote lithium development and will be creating a lithium working group, though he said a formal announcement had yet to be made.

Peru is the world’s second-biggest copper producer, but so far has limited lithium production.

Contreras said mining companies had expressed interest in expanding their operations in the country despite the unrest.

President Boluarte repeated her calls for dialogue to end the protests this week, claiming the violence was being caused by a group of “radicals with their own political agenda.”

($1 = 3.8711 soles)

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