Paraguayan minister Gustavo Leite and Bennett 370.
(photo credit: Shlomo Rabinowitz)
Paraguay, with its politically and economically stable environment, could be an
ideal springboard for Israeli technologies in Latin America, a minister from the
country told The Jerusalem Post in an interview last week.
Trade and Investment Minister Gustavo Leite spoke with the Post on the sidelines
of the Water Technology and Environmental Control Exhibition and Conference in
Tel Aviv on Tuesday about the plethora of trade opportunities available between
Israel and the South American nation.
With a favorable tax system and a
stable business environment, Paraguay could be the key to providing Israeli
innovators with comfortable and reliable access to the broader Latin American
markets, Leite stressed.
“I am convinced and my government is convinced
that Israel has a longtime ally in South America,” he said. “But now we can be a
very reliable business partner, to transform Israeli ingenuity to products
produced in Paraguay.”
Leite said that while in Israel he had had
meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Economy and Trade Minister
Naftali Bennett, during which he reaffirmed these sentiments.
together, the two countries – which Leite called “longtime friends and allies” –
could generate more income and ensure that their people have an increased
standard of living, he explained.
In comparison to other South American
countries, Paraguay is very stable and has a “competitive tax system” of about
10 percent, which represents roughly half to one-third that of surrounding
nations, according to Leite. Meanwhile, around 70 percent of Paraguay’s
population is under 35, giving the nation a big demographic bonus, he
Paraguay is also the only country in the region that offers
readily available renewable hydroelectric energy to power industries and
businesses located there, Leite explained.
“On top of that, Latin America
is integrating into a very big free trade zone,” he said.
As part of the
Mercosur – the economic common market shared among Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina,
Uruguay, Venezuela and Bolivia – Paraguay has direct access to other South
American markets, according to Leite.
“If we team it up with Israel’s
ingenuity and innovation then it’s a winning combination,” he
Through an Israeli-Paraguayan partnership, while Paraguay would
receive access to Israel’s hi-tech and technology transfer sectors, Israel would
acquire an instant ability to expand its markets much more quickly than it could
alone, Leite explained.
Leite addressed the water sector in particular,
as he was attending a water conference and exhibition, and said that he saw
water as a big opportunity for cooperation, because “Paraguay is a country that
has an abundance of water, as opposed to Israel that didn’t have water in the
He also saw prospects for partnerships in renewable energies, and
stressed that Paraguay was beginning to develop a long-term energy
Although the country produces four times more energy than it needs
from hydroelectric sources, Leite said he expected the supply to run out in
about 30 to 40 years, necessitating future-minded thinking.
there too provides a very good winning combination,” he continued, pointing out
Israel’s successes in developing solar and wind energy
Acknowledging that there were many countries aiming to
partner with Israel on technology development and marketing, Leite said that he
would prefer not to focus on the competition, but that Paraguay’s tax scheme,
location and resources were all “very hard to imitate.”
“What we want to
do is make the best of what we’ve got,” he added. “We are by far the most
pro-Israeli in the region, and we are by far the biggest believers in democracy
and free market economics.”