Paraguayan President Santiago Peña spoke Tuesday in favor of free trade and environmental protection during his appearance before the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) at its Santiago (Chile) headquarters.
Peña highlighted ECLAC’s role since its creation 75 years ago and underlined its current contribution to inclusive trade while reducing gender inequalities in the region. In addition, the Colorado Party leader portrayed Paraguay as one of the most open countries for trade, with a great potential for sustainable energy production.
For developing countries, foreign trade is key to the generation of employment and prosperity, so we consider unacceptable protectionist measures such as tariff and non-tariff barriers that many countries continue to apply today, Peña insisted.
Trade should not be subordinated to petty geopolitical interests in the face of legitimate competitors that respect the rules of fair international trade, he added.
Paraguay is also one of the countries with the highest per capita production of renewable energy in the world, Peña pointed out and mentioned that his government's goal was to promote green hydrogen output to make the country a logistic hub for large-scale production at competitive prices.
In the Paraguayan President’s view, climate change and its effects are a great global challenge, although environmental protection should not mean giving up opportunities for trade expansion, job and wealth creation.
The real and common concern we have about the environment should not be tarnished by measures whose objectives are different from those of its protection, turning into trade measures that become unfair and discriminatory economic restrictions that generate discontent and uncertainty in developing countries, Peña stressed.
Developing countries cannot assume responsibility for the environmental damage caused by the industrialization of the 19th and 20th centuries when there were no mitigation measures, he went on.
However, Peña admitted that the fundamental principles of the Paris Agreement, such as shared but differentiated responsibilities, transfer of finance and technology and consideration of threats based on scientific means, have not been met.
On Monday Peña spoke before Chilean businessmen, whom he encouraged to invest in Paraguay because his country was “an oasis.” He also acknowledged that Chilean investments in Paraguay had been growing for several years, albeit very timidly. Peña insisted Paraguay needed to speed up the development process.
During an event hosted by Chile’s Sociedad de Fomento Fabril (Sosofa), Peña argued that Paraguay is on this train that wants to recover lost ground, we have progressed, Paraguay is an oasis in a rather convulsed region. We believe that today Paraguay is the most attractive economic and stable scenario in the region, but we need the development process to accelerate. Peña also underlined that -within Mercosur- Paraguay feels very much in alliance with Chile and that this official visit was not a coincidence.
Coming to Chile as the first official visit is not by chance. For me it has an important value, the two meetings that I held this morning in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, are aimed at strengthening the political ties that are necessary, but also our agenda is focused on the business area so I came to tell them that we must do much more. Paraguay and Chile have advanced in several agreements. We made great progress in investment, but it is growing with a profile that I want to change, he pointed out while insisting on the importance of “macroeconomic stability, predictability, certainty and, of course, investment in human capital.”