Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
Peru allows foreign portfolio investment and does not place restrictions on international transactions. The private sector has access to a variety of credit instruments. Mutual funds managed $10.7 billion in December 2019. Private pension funds managed a total of $52.7 billion in December 2019.
The stock market, the Lima Stock Exchange (Bolsa de Valores de Lima or BVL), is a member of the Integrated Latin American Market (MILA), which includes the stock markets from Pacific Alliance countries (Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico) and seeks to integrate their stock exchanges to develop their capital markets. In December 2017, the GOP implemented a capital markets promotion law that enables mutual funds registered in Pacific Alliance countries to trade in the Lima Stock Exchange starting in July 2018. In July 2018 the Securities Market Superintendence published implementing regulations to enable the trade of funds in Pacific Alliance countries.
The Securities Market Superintendence (SMV) is the GOP entity charged with regulating the securities and commodities markets. SMV’s mandate includes controlling securities market participants, maintaining a transparent and orderly market, setting accounting standards, and publishing financial information about listed companies. SMV requires stock issuers to report events that may affect the stock, the company, or any public offerings. This requirement promotes market transparency, and aims to prevent fraud. Trading on insider information is a crime, with some reported prosecutions in past years. SMV must vet all firms listed on the Lima Stock Exchange or the Public Registry of Securities. SMV also maintains the Public Registry of Securities and Stock Brokers. SMV is studying ways to improve the regulatory system to encourage and facilitate portfolio investment.
Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) maintained the Emerging Market status of the Lima Stock Exchange (BVL), which was under review for reclassification to Frontier status in 2017. London Stock Exchange Group FTSE Russell reclassified Peru from Secondary Emerging Market to Frontier status in March 2020. In a statement, the BVL stated that the decision is not necessarily replicable among the other index providers adding that MSCI, which is considered a main benchmark for emerging markets, is not expected to reconsider the BVL’s status.
Money and Banking System
Economic opening since the 1990s, coupled with competition, has led to banking sector consolidation. Fifteen commercial banks comprise the system, with assets accounting for 89 percent of Peru’s financial system. In 2019, three banks accounted for 71 percent of local loans and 70 percent of deposits among commercial banks. Of $150 billion in total banking assets at the end of December 2019, assets of the three largest commercial banks amounted to $88.32 billion.
The banking system is considered generally sound, thanks to lessons learned during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, and continues to revamp operations, increase capitalization, and reduce costs. Non-performing bank loans accounted for three percent of gross loans as of December 2019, down from a high of 11 percent in early 2001. Strong bank supervision coupled with robust GDP growth over the last decade also helped banks weather the 2008-2009 global financial crises. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have a negative impact on banking loan portfolios. The fast implementation of the $9 billion BCRP loan guarantee will attenuate loan default risk, but banks will still feel an impact on credit operations from sensitive sectors such as tourism, services, and retail, which will take much longer to recover.
The Central Reserve Bank of Peru (BCRP) is an independent institution, free to manage monetary policy to maintain financial stability. The BCRP’s primary goal is to maintain price stability via inflation targeting. Inflation at year-end in Peru reached 0.2 percent in 2009, 2.1 percent in 2010, 4.7 percent in 2011, 2.6 percent in 2012, 2.9 percent in 2013, 3.2 percent in 2014, 4.4 percent in 2015, 3.2 percent in 2016, 1.4 percent in 2017, 2.2 percent in 2018, and 1.9 percent in 2019. Peru’s target inflation range is 1 to 3 percent.
Under the PTPA, U.S. financial service suppliers have full rights to establish subsidiaries or branches for banks and insurance companies.
Peruvian law and regulations do not authorize or encourage private firms to adopt articles of incorporation or association to limit or restrict foreign participation. There are no private or public sector efforts to restrict foreign participation in industry standards-setting organizations. However, larger private firms often use “cross-shareholding” and “stable shareholder” arrangements to restrict investment by outsiders — not necessarily foreigners — in their firms. As close families or associates generally control ownership of Peruvian corporations, hostile takeovers are practically non-existent. In the past few years, several companies from the region, China, North America, and Europe have begun actively buying local companies in power transmission, retail trade, fishmeal production, and other industries. While foreign banks are allowed to freely establish banks in the country, they are subject to the supervision of Peru’s Superintendent of Banks and Securities (SBS).
The country has not explored or made announcements on its intention to implement or allow the implementation of blockchain technologies in banking transactions.
Peru’s financial system has 10 specialized institutions (“financieras”), 28 thriving micro-lenders and savings banks (although several large banks also lend to small enterprises), one leasing institution, two state-owned banks, and one state-owned development bank. In 2019, the Economist Intelligence Unit again ranked Peru number two worldwide, after Colombia, as one of the countries with the best microfinance business environment because of its competitive microfinance sector, market entry, and credit portfolio for middle and low income customers. In January 2019, Peru established regulations to require SBS supervision of savings and loan associations and 437 saving and loan cooperatives are registered with the SBS for supervision.
Foreign Exchange and Remittances
Foreign Exchange Policies
There are no reported difficulties in obtaining foreign exchange. Under Article 64 of the 1993 Constitution, the GOP guarantees the freedom to hold and dispose of foreign currency. The GOP has eliminated all restrictions on remittances of profits, dividends, royalties, and capital, although foreign investors are advised to register their investments with ProInversion to ensure these guarantees. Exporters and importers are not required to channel foreign exchange transactions through the Central Bank and can conduct transactions freely on the open market. Anyone may open and maintain foreign currency accounts in Peruvian commercial banks. U.S. firms have reported no problems or delays in transferring funds or remitting capital, earnings, loan repayments or lease payments since Peru’s economic reforms of the early 1990s. Under the PTPA, portfolio managers in the United States are able to provide portfolio management services to both mutual funds and pension funds in Peru, including funds that manage Peru’s privatized social security accounts.
The 1993 Constitution guarantees free convertibility of currency. However, limited capital controls still exist as private pension fund managers (AFPs) are constrained by how much of their portfolio can be invested in foreign securities. The maximum limit is set by law (currently 50 percent since July 2011), but the BCRP sets the operating limit AFPs can invest abroad. Over the years, the BCRP has gradually increased the operating limit. Peru reached the 50 percent limit in September 2018.
The foreign exchange market mostly operates freely. Funds associated with any form of investment can be freely converted into any world currency. To quell “extreme variations” of the exchange rate, the BCRP intervenes through purchases and sales in the open market without imposing controls on exchange rates or transactions. Since 2014, the BCRP has pursued de-dollarization to reduce dollar denominated loans in the market and purchased U.S. dollars to mitigate the risk that spillover from expansionary U.S. monetary policy might result in over-valuation of the Peruvian Sol relative to the U.S. dollar. U.S. dollars account for a decreasing share of banking system transactions, according to the Bank Supervisory Authority (SBS). In 2001, U.S. dollars accounted for 82 percent of loans and 73 percent of deposits. In December 2019, dollar-denominated loans reached 26 percent, and deposits 33 percent. The U.S. Dollar averaged PEN 3.34 per $1 in 2019.
The U.S. Dollar averaged PEN 3.34 per $1 in 2019.
There have not been any new developments related to investment remittance policies.
Peruvian law grants foreign investors the following rights: freedom to buy shares from national investors; free remittance of earnings and dividends; free capital repatriation; unrestricted access to local credits; freedom to hire technology and to pay back royalties; freedom to hire investment insurance abroad; possibility to sign juridical stability agreements for their investments in Peru with the Peruvian state.
Article 7 of the Legislative Decree N° 662 provides that foreign investors may send, in freely convertible currencies, remittances of the entirety of their capital derived from investments, including the sale of shares, stocks or rights, capital reduction or partial or total liquidation of companies, the entirety of their dividends or proven net profit derived from their investments, and any considerations for the use or enjoyment of assets that are physically located in Peru, as registered with the competent national entity, without a prior authorization from any national government department or decentralized public entities, or regional or municipal Governments, after having paid all the applicable taxes.
Sovereign Wealth Funds
Peru’s Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) manages the Fiscal Stabilization Fund. The fund had a balance of $5.5 billion at the end of 2019 and consists of treasury surplus, concessional fees, and privatization proceeds, with a cap of four percent of GDP. The MEF released investment guidelines for the Fiscal Stabilization Fund in December 2015. The guidelines permit investment in demand deposits, variable and fixed interest rate time deposits, and seven currencies including the U.S. dollar. The Fund is not a party to the IMF International Working Group or a signatory to the Santiago Principles. The fund serves as a buffer for the GOP’s fiscal accounts in the event of adverse economic conditions, such as the economic impact of the global COVID-19 crisis.