Could Paraguay be Britain’s Best Route to Brazil?

Liz Cramer, Paraguay’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, explains why British businesses should come to her country…

Where are the opportunities in Paraguay for British firms?

MC: Britain, in its new economic reality outside of the EU, will no doubt be looking for different markets. Mercosur is a huge market of more than 260 million people and Paraguay is the perfect way to access it. We can offer a competitive base to manufacture for Mercosur because we have low energy costs, an affordable, productive and competitive workforce and an attractive tax regime. We’ve already seen the rapid growth of an auto-parts industry as international firms have taken advantage of these factors. Indeed, it’s worth noting that while the agricultural sector struggled in 2019 – and impacted the whole economy – services continued to grow. We are keen to expand in new areas, such as fintech and telecoms, and they are sectors where the UK has plenty of expertise. As Paraguay starts to grow in more sophisticated industries there is increasing demand for the type of investment and know-how that Britain can bring to the table.

Mercosur is a huge market of more than 260 million people and Paraguay is the perfect way to access it…

We recently relaunched our export promotion and investment attraction agency – Rediex. We want it to attract the type of foreign investment that can kickstart new export industries and clusters in Paraguay. A good example of this is the $800 million Omega Green project led by ECB Group, a Brazilian firm. This advanced biofuel plant has the potential to consume 20% of our soy output and turn it into a more sophisticated value-added product which has several markets eager to implement greener and sustainable fuel practices. It’s not just biofuels, eventually it will become a cluster for green industry, with products such as renewable plastic among others.

This is exactly the type of investment that we need to attract. It will create an industry that put Paraguay at the forefront of where the world is going in the 21st century. It also has a large positive impact on our country because its local supply chains will support 20,000 Paraguayan families. Crucially your readers need to understand that we don’t just want to sell our young workforce and cheap, green energy to anyone. We have abundant supplies of both but they are finite. Therefore, we want to offer them to industries that will really have a positive multiplying impact in Paraguay. Omega Green will position Paraguay as one of the world leaders in green energy.

Minister Cramer spells out Paraguay’s competitive advantages…

How will Paraguay’s economy be impacted by coronavirus?

MC: We foresee that Paraguay, like many other economies in the world, will suffer from short- and medium-term effects of the necessary quarantine to fight against Covid-19, but Paraguay’s unique blend of sectors also makes it a resilient country that produces what the world demands right now and after: commodities, food products, pharmaceuticals and light manufacturing related to medical and chemical industries. We hope that our short-term sacrifices in implementing a strict and early quarantine, since March 11th, have ensured that our population is safe, healthy and productive in the long-term.

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