> CECHAP Event

Carlos Kuriyama: Opportunities and challenges for Peru during APEC 2024

Carlos Kuriyama, a UP economics graduate, is director of the APEC Policy Support Unit—one of the most important areas of the organization’s Secretariat in Singapore.

The first meetings of APEC Peru 2024 began on February 21 and to learn more about the importance of this event to the country, we spoke with Carlos Kuriyama, director of the APEC Policy Support Unit.

APEC is the premier economic forum for the wider Asia-Pacific region, encompassing 21 of the world’s largest economies, including the United States, the People’s Republic of China, Japan, Indonesia, and the Republic of Korea. The forum aims to promote trade, economic development and technical cooperation among member economies. It is of considerable importance for Peru given some two-thirds of the country’s foreign trade is carried out with other members.

According to Carlos, Peru has taken advantage of its APEC membership to strengthen bilateral ties with Asian economies through mechanisms such as free trade agreements, investment promotion and protection agreements, sanitary and phytosanitary protocols to facilitate Peruvian agricultural exports to other markets, and others. Many of these agreements and protocols were finalized during the years that Peru previously hosted APEC.

“An important fact is that since Peru was accepted as a member of APEC in 1998, about 5.9 million Peruvians have managed to escape extreme poverty and about 3.4 million Peruvians no longer live below the poverty line.”

Peru’s hosting of the forum—for the third time—this year gives the country a great opportunity to propose a work agenda that promotes areas of national interest with the support of all members. The bloc covers around 40% of the world’s population, 50% of international world trade, and 60% of global gross domestic product, so a successful APEC 2024 will help to raise Peru’s profile while propagating a highly favorable image.

Other than the APEC Leaders’ Meeting and the APEC Annual Ministerial Meeting, to be held in November, throughout the year there will be gatherings of working groups, committees, senior officials, and ministers representing a wide range of sectors. The forum event will also offer capacity-building events for government officials at which experiences will be shared and good practices learned.

Some of the specific issues that Peru seeks to promote as host economy concern the development of a new vision for an Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area; a roadmap to guide the transition from an informal to a formal economy; a framework for the development of green hydrogen; and a strategy to devise action plans that promote inclusiveness and financial sustainability.

First Peruvian to lead the APEC Policy Support Unit

“It is a great honor and a great responsibility to lead the APEC Policy Support Unit.”

Carlos joined the APEC Secretariat as a senior analyst in the Policy Support Unit in April 2009. But how did he get there? In 2008, while he was working at Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs circulated a job advertisement from the APEC Secretariat, which was seeking specialists who were fluent in the English language, possessed knowledge of economic and trade policy, and, preferably, had public-sector experience for its newly created Policy Support Unit. Carlos saw this as the perfect opportunity, and he did not delay in submitting his application to the APEC Secretariat. Then, a series of interviews culminated in an invitation to join the Policy Support Unit.

In 2022, after a rigorous assessment and two rounds of interviews in front of a panel featuring representatives of most member economies, APEC senior officials appointed him as director starting January 1, 2023.

What is the Policy Support Unit?

The Policy Support Unit is responsible for economic research and government policy analysis, for which it prepares studies that present evidence, facts, and policy recommendations on the various topics discussed at APEC in order to improve the quality of discussion and facilitate decision-making in working groups, committees and high-level meetings. It also participates and disseminates its work in capacity-building events and workshops for government officials. This entails discussing APEC’s progress across its work areas, identifying the problems and challenges facing Asia-Pacific, and providing policy recommendations so that governments can address them.

International experience

“Living and working in Singapore has been a unique opportunity for which I am very grateful—not only from a personal and professional point of view but also in terms of the experiences learned.”

Singapore is one of few countries that succeeded in making the transition from the third to the first world in just a few decades. When the nation seceded from Malaysia in 1965, its per capita GDP was only slightly higher than Peru’s (by US $1,000); today its GDP per capita exceeds that of Peru by around US $62,000. In addition, Singapore has made great socioeconomic process in the fields of education, health, housing, public infrastructure, and others.

Much of its success is due to a system of economic openness, a culture of respect for and enforcement of the law, and zero tolerance for corruption, of which Singapore has one of the lowest rates in the world.

Pride for UP

Besides the ethical and moral values instilled by his family, Carlos cites the academic grounding he received at the Universidad del Pacífico as something that has undoubtedly served him very well over the course of his professional career.

Carlos’s first professional experience was at the university’s Research Center (CIUP), where he served as a professor as well as head of internships. He then obtained a scholarship for graduate studies in the United States, completing a master’s degree in International Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. After this experience he joined MINCETUR, at which he led and coordinated important international trade negotiations, including free trade agreements with China and Singapore, as well as serving as an advisor to the vice minister of foreign trade. From 2009 he served as senior analyst in the APEC Policy Support Unit based in Singapore, before becoming director of the unit in January 2023.

“All these experiences and the knowledge learned over my years of academic and professional training have helped me a great deal in face this new challenge of leading the Policy Support Unit of the APEC Secretariat.”

Contact Us