LIMA – Drug trafficking has grown in Peru to the extent that revenues from cocaine exports total some $22 billion, equivalent to 17 percent of gross domestic product, the business daily Gestion reported Wednesday.
Peru’s drug czar, Romulo Pizarro, estimates that foreign drug cartels’ earnings from peddling Peruvian cocaine have risen by $3.8 billion since 2004, the newspaper said.
The problem “is inside our borders and appears set to grow,” Pizarro, who heads Peru’s Devida anti-drug agency, said Tuesday.
This figure is not only equivalent to 17 percent of GDP, which totaled $127 billion in 2008, but it is bigger than any legitimate sector of the economy, according to Economy and Finance Ministry figures, Gestion said, noting that manufacturing accounts for 16 percent of national output.
A U.N. study released in June said Peru, where 56,000 hectares (138,271 acres) are planted with coca, produced 36 percent of the cocaine in the world in 2008.
Of the total cocaine produced in Peru, some 60 percent was exported to the United States and Europe, 35 percent to Asia and the remainder to various countries in Latin America, analyst Jaime Antezana told Gestion.
While a kilo of cocaine goes for $1,500 in Lima, a gram of the drug fetches at least $100 in New York and $172 in Europe.
Drug trafficking also harms the domestic economy because it drives down the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar due to the large supply of the currency, economist Cesar Peñaranda said in a column published by Gestion.
“This money increases the risk of corruption, so it distorts the functioning of the market,” Peñaranda said. EFE