Paraguay’s diplomatic policy has gained momentum in recent years. Paraguay has been able to position itself abroad in several respects, one of the most recent achievements being membership of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eladio Loizaga, tells us in this interview what the objectives for this 2017 are, pointing out as one of the points the inclusion of new markets. The chancellor also points out that Paraguay has achieved great recognition in the international context, both in politics and foreign trade.
SILDE OPORTO – What are the objectives of the National Chancellery for this year?
MINISTER ELADIO LOIZAGA – As regards last year’s foreign policy, we have continued the country’s presence both bilaterally and multilaterally.
We have worked intensively with presidential diplomacy, we have also had the presence of other presidents in the country, and what we are achieving with this is a presence and recognition of Paraguay as an actor in the international context, and above all in front of the latest Positions we have taken in the framework of respect for human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of movement of people. With respect to the challenges that we have for this year, we are working intensely in developing a cultural diplomacy since it is very important that the Paraguayan culture has also a presence in the world.
In our goals also for this year above all is to continue our initial work in opening markets and especially in an area that became the Paraguayan brand, which is the meat. Today we have 38 open markets and we will continue to work, because as we have bigger open markets the options of exporters are logically greater in terms of cost and meat benefits.
SILDE OPORTO – What are the plans of the Foreign Ministry to establish new trade relations with countries that Paraguay still has no bilateral relationship?
MINISTER ELADIO LOIZAGA – We have been opening a meat market, the commercial bilateral relationship we make within the parameters that we have within Mercosur (Common Market of the South), since we have a decision that all together we have to move forward in the relationship in The free trade agreement as we have just done with the EFTA (European Free Trade Agreement) that we are going to start right away and we are already in the third round of negotiations with the European Union, which is now starting in the Second half of February.
We have an agreement with Turkey, in which we are going to advance with the negotiations taking into account that Turkey is an interesting market for Paraguay and besides that is also a very important player in the Middle East.
SILDE OPORTO – In the Free Trade Agreement between Mercosur and the European Union, what is the expectation after the support of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel?
MINISTER ELADIO LOIZAGA – This is an agreement that has years and in this I want to highlight. In order to reach this stage, Paraguay, in the exercise of its Mercosur presidency, made a commitment to consolidate Mercosur’s offer and here in Asuncion in October 2015, during our presidency, we met the foreign ministers and agreed not to leave the meeting table Until closing the agreement and we closed, some things remained pending. With the work of Paraguay and logically Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, we have consolidated an offer, and we have presented that offer in January 2016 and there started the whole process.
What Mrs Merkel points out as the chancellor of Germany is a very important endorsement, we know that this too is backed by Spain. We know that it is not easy or that there are difficulties, sensibilities rather, but that as soon as we finish this will be more beneficial for both blocks.
SILDE OPORTO – One of the difficulties is in agricultural products, what does the European Union ask for and what does Mercosur offer?
MINISTER ELADIO LOIZAGA – The European Union has subsidies, already under the WTO (World Trade Organization), last year a decision was taken to dismantle the subsidies, some countries still have not done so and logically the productivity of The agricultural products in our country is much more competitive than in Europe, so that is where we have to go to work. For us it is sensible “automotive” for example, for us it is sensitive “services” and we have included in the offers, so we hope that in this third meeting we will go forward on that so especially meat be included and see under that figure