As part of his swing through Spain and the U.S., Paraguayan president Federico Franco met with Spanish president Mariano Rajoy in Madrid and spoke at the Organization of American States in Washington DC. As part of the tour, Franco also met with businesses interested in investing in Paraguay.
On April 4, Franco met with representatives of the Livingston Group, a lobbying and business-development firm based in Washington D.C.. The Livingston Group delegation, led by former Senator Wayne Allard, had an extensive conversation with the Paraguayan leader.
President Franco pointed out Paraguay’s financial stability by sharing an anecdote with the attendees. He shared the story of a renowned financier who moved to Paraguay before the financial crisis of early 2009. The financier returned to the U.S. after the crisis, having made a substantial profit, when his competitors had decided to stay in the U..S. and were not as successful as they anticipated. The central theme of the meeting was a focus on the abundant resources and capital investment potential that Paraguay has to offer. President Franco underlined that in order to have continuous economic growth, Paraguay’s seeks foreign investors to take advantage of the natural and untapped mining resources that the country offers to strategic investors from the U.S. and elsewhere.
Senator Allard in his introduction spoke of the common roots that his home state of Colorado and the U.S. share with Paraguay: Both were initially colonized by the Spanish and over the centuries, an agrarian economy was transformed into industry and business.
President Franco agreed and highlighted how the wealth of natural and renewable resources of Paraguay is of such abundance that a cane can be impelled into the ground and lay down roots ten minutes later.
Among the resources discussed in the meeting were those found in Paraguay’s semi-arid Chaco region, which is home to phosphate-rich soil that can be cultivated three times a year. Staple crops , such as soy and cotton, can be cycled in a symbiotic process. In addition, recent exploration shows that Chaco holds vast deposits of petroleum, nickel, titanium, copper, gold, and uranium.
Currently, Paraguay is the world’s leader in organic sugar production and sesame seed production, fourth in soybean production, and eighth largest producer of beef. Paraguay’s electro-conductive industry is flourishing due to the discovery of aluminum deposits, including recent initiatives undertaken by Rio Tinto Alcan which will be investing in the development of a large aluminum production plant and contribute towards making Paraguay an aluminum exporting country.
The aforementioned facts, along with a 12% flat tax, 70% of the population below the age of 30, debt that only encompasses 12% of GDP, and $6.4 billion in reserves make Paraguay an attractive country for investing and establishing business partnerships on the large and small scales.
In speaking to these characteristics of Paraguay, President Franco spoke to the purpose of his visit to the U.S. Franco said that he is seeking to ally Paraguay with the United States’ intellectual and technological might and its economic resources. According to President Franco, “With a constant improvement of the education system – and the know how - similar to the United States, with a vast population under the age of 30, an increase of U.S. investments in the underdeveloped rural areas will turn Paraguay into a world power.”
President Franco invited the Livingston Group and interested investors to continue discussions on a visit to Paraguay.
Spero columnist Peter M. Tase writes on international relations and business.