In 2011, Paraguay was the ninth greatest exporter of boneless meat, menthol, essential oils and citrus fruit in the world. The country experienced an increase in beef exports immediately after a cattle disease outbreak which occurred between September 2011 and January 2012. Of the total amount of exported beef, 21,000 kilos consisted of cattle offal, which brought an additional profit for Paraguayan beef exporters, reaching more than $87 million in 2012.
Russia is in first place among the 23 countries importing edible internal organs from Paraguay. The Eurasian Giant is followed by Hong Kong, Gabon, Angola, Vietnam and Democratic Republic of Congo. In the course of this year, the main destination for Paraguayan beef products remains Russia, with 70% of the total amount exported; Brazil is in the second place with 14% and Angola and Israel are in the third and fourth places respectively.
Meat exports from Paraguay had reached a record high in November 2012 of $993 million, while by December 20 it surpassed $1.05 billion. Paraguay exports 153,000 metric tonnes of beef to 39 countries with a value of $755 million, compared to 132,700 tonnes to a year-end 2011 value of $706 million. Pork meat exports reached 956 metric tonnes with a value of $2 million compared to 56 metric tonnes valued at $210,000 in the same period in 2011.
Russia led international buyers of Paraguayan meat in 2012 with a volume of 108,500 metric tonnes valued at $538.7 million, while Brazil was next with a volume of 20,300 metric tonnes worth $101.6 million.
Paraguay’s international market share of beef exports is on the rise; its cattle are considered to have a tender flavor and taste which is different from beef products exported by Argentina and Brazil. Paraguay’s cattle industry is fully dependent on livestock that is range fed or sustained by organically grown fodder, which has been cited as the reason why countries such as Russia and even Brazil, prefer to import beef from this landlocked country which is thought to have a potential of providing food for the whole world.
According to Blas Oddone, DVM, a local expert in Paraguay’s current exporting capacity of beef, “In 2012, the country experienced a substantial growth in beef exports despite many animal health issues faced by the cattle ranchers. Last year Paraguay exported a total of 205,349 tons (186,289,829 kilos) of beef, reaching more than $903 million in value, and securing more than $105 million dollars in growth of revenue when compared to the balance sheet of 2011. In late 2013, Taiwan will also begin to import 4,000 metric tons of Paraguayan beef, after two years of suspending its meat imports from the landlocked country."
Panama is another important trading partner of Paraguay. This year, two countries celebrated the 20th anniversary of the beginning of bilateral cooperation, which has grown substantially in the last year years, mainly in the area of law enforcement and in trade and tourism. Friendly relations between the two countries have made direct flights by COPA – Panama’s flagship airline – between Panama City and Asunción possible since 2007.
Paraguayan authorities are highly engaged and constantly share valuable information and expertise with their Panamanian counterparts, especially in areas such as hydroelectric power and the latest developments in applied technology, bilingual training programs for the armed forces, and public health projects.
On the other hand, Panama City shares its successful and long experience with Asuncion, particularly in the shipment and cargo management, port administration, treatment of tropical disease, financial systems reform, and social housing programs.
In late 2012, the foreign ministries of Panama and Paraguay signed a bilateral agreement that would further stimulate and promote bilateral trade. The extensive partnership and cooperation between Asuncion and Panama City is now additionally based on bilateral trade exchange.
In 2010, the capacity of Paraguay’s exported products to Panama doubled, now consisting of more than $13.7 million as compared to the previous year which consisted in only $6 million. In 2011, Paraguayan exports reached a monetary value of more than $6.8 million and imported products from Panama totaled $3.9 million. Bilateral trade relations have been predominantly in favor of Paraguay even though it does not have direct access to the sea. There are great opportunities for both countries to broaden their respective strategies towards maximizing the use of Paraguay’s wealth of natural resources and Panama’s favorable geographic position. These are characteristics that would immensely help and reinvigorate the economies of both nations.
Spero columnist Peter M. Tase writes on Latin American trade and diplomatic issues.