Paraguay says can be launch pad for Israeli technology in Latin America

With a favorable tax system, stable business environment, Paraguay could be key to providing Israeli innovators with access to broader Latin markets, says Paraguayan minister.

Paraguayan minister Gustavo Leite and Bennett 370 (photo credit: Shlomo Rabinowitz)
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.
Paraguayan 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.
By working 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 added.
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 said.
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 past.”
He also saw prospects for partnerships in renewable energies, and stressed that Paraguay was beginning to develop a long-term energy plan.
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.
“So Israel there too provides a very good winning combination,” he continued, pointing out Israel’s successes in developing solar and wind energy innovations.
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.”