Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes finishes his trip to Japan today, after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday. The heads of state discussed concerns with North Korea, nuclear missile development, and territorial and maritime coercion claims, but the primary focus of the meetings was to discuss transnational development between the two countries, including Japanese funding of Paraguayan infrastructure.
President Cartes affirmed his country’s stability, stating that it is a safe country to conduct business, with one of the best corporate climate’s due to tax benefits, available labor force, vast territory, and the low cost of energy. Currently, there are 10 Japanese companies based in Paraguay, but the president has plans for further investment. ”We’ve received cooperation from Japan for a wide range of development projects […] Japanese companies have created jobs for young people,” said Cartes.
On Tuesday, Akihito Tanaka, president of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), awarded Paraguayan Finance Minister Germán Rojas a sum of approximately $176 million, which will be put toward the construction of an asphalted highway in the southern Paraguayan state of Alto Paraná, connecting Natalio, Itapúa and Cedrales. The area is where most of the country’s grain harvesting and production takes place. The money will also be used to aid the 200,000 individuals affected by recent torrential flooding in recent weeks.
Paraguay, recently the host country for the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly meeting on development and social inclusion, has been lauded for its economic growth of 13 percent, yet remains one of the most unequal and socially exclusive countries in the region.
Stay tuned for Americas Quarterly’s Summer 2014 issue for in-depth analysis of social inclusion in the hemisphere.