New Delhi: Mr Fernando Lugo Méndez, President of the Republic of Paraguay, declared here today that “Paraguay and India can mutually benefit from commercial activities and can complement and collaborate with each other by engaging in bilateral trade.”
Addressing an interactive meeting on ‘India-Paraguay: Exploring Synergies, Strengthening Partnership’ jointly organised by FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM was held today. Accompanied by his delegation, Mr Lugo Méndez said, “Paraguay with economic stability, strategic location, abundance of natural resources and low fiscal load has immense potential for developing commercial and investment relations with India.”
Mr Francisco José Rivas Almada, Paraguayan Minister of Industry and Commerce, invited Indian business to Paraguay to take advantage of the country’s transition and development phase. “Paraguay has great potential to provide investment opportunities with a population of 6 million people and a huge labour force. Also, it can provide manufacturing and agricultural products which are the areas of interest to India, thus making India our potential partners,” said Mr Almada.
A short presentation on Paraguay and the investment opportunities available to foreign investors was showcased by Dr Óscar Stark, National Director of the Network for Exports and Investments Promotion of Paraguay. “Paraguay tripled its GDP. The country consumes only 20 per cent of the energy produced by it; therefore there is a huge scope for foreign investors to take advantage of it,” he mentioned.
During the presentation, Mr Stark pointed out that Paraguay can be a favourable investment destination as the country offers easy taxation system and a smooth bureaucratic system.
Mr Ganesan Natarajan, Senior Member, CII LAC Committee and Whole Time Director & President, Ennore Coke Limited, welcoming the President of Paraguay said, “This is the first-ever visit of the President of Paraguay to India but both the nations have had friendly bilateral relations since 1950.” Further speaking of the complementarities and the business opportunities between the two countries, Mr Ganesan said “Total bilateral trade stood at US$ 152 million in 2011; however this figure does not do justice to the huge potential that exists between the two countries.”
Dr V B Soni, Senior Member, ASSOCHAM & Chairman , Overseas Infrastructure Alliance (I) Pvt Ltd, remarked, “The enhancement in bilateral trade has been greatly facilitated with the signing of Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between India and MERCOSUR, the trading bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay which came into effect in June 2009.”
“India’s exports to Paraguay have increased almost 70 per cent in four years from 2007 to 2011, from US$ 46 million to US$ 76 million, while its imports from Paraguay grew by 221 per cent from US$ 23 million to US$74 million over the same period,” he said.
Mr Rakesh Bakshi, Senior Member, FICCI National Executive Committee and Chairman & Managing Director, RRB Energy Ltd, pointed out that “Education is one of the sectors which is close to the Paraguayan President’s heart, hence together India and Paraguay can empower the rural population of their respective nations.” Also Paraguay is focusing on renewable energy, and Indian companies are keen to develop partnerships with Paraguayan counterparts in this area. “We are keen to deepen this economic relationship at the SME level,” affirmed Mr Bakshi.