Thursday, June 24, 2021

Following the spirit of our common market

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By H.E. Dr. Euclides Acevedo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay

The minister shared his views on the issue of the Covid vaccines, reactivation of the economy, 30 years of MERCOSUR and the role of Paraguayan ambassadors worldwide in promoting trade; he also sent a message to European investors.

I agree that the vaccines, which should have been universally available, were not well distributed and are not reaching everyone. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay has tried to remedy this situation.  To this end we have resorted to all our international contacts to obtain more vaccines.

We should highlight the response and cooperation of Chile, India and Qatar, and the signing of a contract, that we can talk about today. India is sending two million doses, and of course, we signed a contract with the Russian Federation for one million doses almost a year ago. These vaccines have been coming in instalments. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made itself available to the Ministry of Health for the coordination not only of the acquisition of the vaccines but also for the logistics and the vaccination rollout.

The second point of the presidential proposal regarding the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in addition to health and Itaipu’s Annex C, is in fact, the reactivation of our country’s Economy. As you know, there can be no economic reactivation without investment, and with no investment there can be no development. This means planning and working towards a fair distribution of what is generated.

In that sense the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not wasted any time and liaised with bilateral and multilateral organizations to identify new markets and set up long term projects. We turned to our neighbours, and to Mercosur, following the spirit of our common market. If we do not join forces in projects that lead to the economic prosperity of the block, it means that we are not really united. For this reason, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has pooled its resources, its very competent professionals, liaised with the industrial union, with the FEPRIN, with the guilds, associations, with syndicates and with social organisations, seeking to work on a project of economic recovery.

Fighting the virus, preventing its spread or setting up a health system that can handle this sanitary emergency, is one thing, but we also need to think about what to do about those who have recovered and are healthy. It is no use having a healthy country if we do not have an economic project that will provide what is necessary. Therefore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not neglected that aspect: to combat the pandemic and prevent the spread of the virus as much as possible, but at the same time stimulate the reactivation of our economy, using imagination, intelligence, and our human talents.

Thirty years of a Mercosur that started with great enthusiasm at a time when the countries in the Region were recovering our freedoms.

After thirty years we have an aging Mercosur that is almost paralysed, still foreign and contradictory.

This pandemic helped us realise that it is important to stimulate regional unity. Regional unity does not mean merely having a simpler customs system, or unifying our common foreign tariffs, it is not just that, but rather, setting up a development project for our continent, to face the challenges of the post-pandemic, a pandemic that caught us all unprepared.

I believe that thirty years on, at a time when we cannot meet each other except through this channel, we gave it a blood transfusion and regained the lost tempo. In the end, Mercosur might be our problem, but Mercosur is also our solution and our way out of this crisis.

My political seniority has led me to the conclusion that the Ambassador is both a spy and a sales rep.

A spy because they must find information, share this information with their metropolis, their headquarters; and they are sales reps because they need to sell, and to do so, it is essential that they know well the markets where they operate, so that we can start producing in response to their specific demands. Why produce what other countries are not going to buy?

In that sense, we with our ambassadors, who not only responded to last year’s repatriation with selflessness and worked hard searching for vaccines this year but are now fully dedicated to the reactivation of our economy and the re-foundation of our Republic. We now must stimulate economic activities that are market-oriented and production-oriented. We do not want to limit ourselves to star products such as beef and soya, but also value-added products. I believe that our vision is very clear, and our ambassadors are in permanent contact not only with us but also through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with our Producers and the Republic’s apparatus for the sector.

I think that at a time when information travels fast and where you can no longer lie, Europeans and non-Europeans know very well why they should come and invest in Paraguay. Here we will provide them with everything that they need in a State with political governance despite the ups and downs and the shortcomings typical of a democracy.

I would like to address in particular the Europeans. There is an agreement between Mercosur and the European Union, but that agreement has not yet been signed. It is important that Europeans understand that we can be an ally, rather than a dishonest competitor. Therefore, I think it is important for them to assume that what has been agreed has to be signed, otherwise, what has been agreed would become a fraudulent hope, which, I do not believe reflects the European culture and its tradition of solidarity.

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