David Chen, a Chinese businessman who arrived in Peru 10 years ago looking for work, recently opened his own operation to import garments from Asia.
“Business is going well because the Peruvian providers do not have enough products or accessories to offer,” Chen said. “They can’t compete with the prices of China or India.”
Alva said that his group “wants to defend Peruvian industry, but many merchants have abandoned the battle and have their items prepared in China.”
Between 2005 and this year, Chinese imports replaced about 237 million Gamarra items, according to Peruvian Customs office figures.
Carlos Puris, a former Gamarra tailor, said that it was a big mistake to sign the free-trade agreement with China.
“They make apparel like us and now were ruined,” he said. “I’ve been told of Chinese factory ships that anchor off [the port of Callao] and assemble items there with Peruvian cotton.”
“We can trade with China,” said Fabian Cuya Caritas, who has worked in Gamarra for 40 years, “but without them driving us into bankruptcy.”