It is an honor to be able to share with The Korea Post readers and authorities this special moment of the year 2020, in which all the countries are facing the difficult circumstance of fighting against the spread of Covid-19 in the world, and the experience of the Republic of Korea in reducing this disease in its territory, is one of the emblematic examples and most positive in the world.
1. Please introduce in detail the Head of Governmwent of your esteemed country, the First Lady and the First Family.
He was born in Asunción on November 10, 1971.He began his academic training, at the San Andrés School, period (1976-1989) GED Test USA (1989) where he completed his primary and secondary. His university studies were conducted at Teikyo Post University, Connecticut, USA. UU (1995) obtaining the title of Bachelor in Marketing. The President of Paraguay is 48 years old and is married to the businesswoman Silvana López Moreira Bo.
President Abdo Benitez officially began his political career in 2004 with only 33 years. In 2008, he was Vice President of the Republican National Association. In 2013 he occupied a legislative banking for the first time. He was President of the Chamber of Senators in the period 2015-2016.
In the private sector, he has also executed a series of activities in a responsible, committed and successful manner. Entrepreneur of the construction sector, in the period 1997-2012 he was Chairman of the Board of the Storage and Distribution Company of Asphalts S.A. "Aldia S.A", a Paraguayan company with more than 20 years of experience in the local market. Under his leadership, the company carried out national and international transport with its own fleet from Brazil and Argentina, fulfilling the responsibilities of strategic, financial planning and auditing.
On April 22, 2018, with more than 46% of the votes, he beat the liberal Efraín Alegre and thus became the new President of the Republic of Paraguay for the period 2018-2023, thus becoming the 9th. President of the democratic time and the 50th. President in the national history of Paraguay, counting from the government of Carlos Antonio López, considered the first constitutional president of the country.
First Lady, Mrs Silvana López Moreira Bo, comes from a wealthy family, daughter of the marriage between Néstor López Moreira and Rossana Bó, in turn granddaughter of Nicolás Bó Parodi, owner of the media, and others Business.
Mrs Silvana studied at the Santa Teresa de Jesús de Asunción School, and her university training was carried out at the Polytechnic and Artistic University of Paraguay, where she obtained a degree in Public Relations. She is currently a businesswoman with a degree in Marketing, in addition to serving as the first lady of Paraguay. They have 6 children.
2. What are the main targets of development of your country this year? Please elaborate.
We cannot fail to mention the Covid-19 pandemic, which also, of course, affects Paraguay. The Paraguayan Government is taking all necessary sanitary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the country. It has also made economic and financial decisions to support the fight against coronavirus transmission, with a mandatory quarantine and closure of the border, deactivation of face-to-face classes in schools, colleges and universities and other pertinent measures. Indeed, as a global coronavirus pandemic spread around the world, Paraguayan Government did not wait, imposing a strict lockdown in early March, before neighboring countries. The result: the fewest cases in the region.
The prolongation of the effects of the coronavirus in Paraguay will affect the economic plans established by the National Government for this year. However, at present, Paraguay has an active and leading role in the international community. Paraguay is working very hard at regional and global levels to strengthen the bilateral and multilateral relationships that will enable it to face the challenges of its own development, such as the reduction of poverty’ the employment creation, mainly for young people, and the technological development. The principles of the Paraguayan social system are based upon the rule of law, the respect for human rights and a political system founded on democracy. Paraguay participates very actively in the construction of a strong multilateral system, in which international law prevails. A country with external projection is a country that generates opportunities for its people. This is even truer for Paraguay, whose main literary figure, Augusto Roa Bastos, described it as an "island surrounded by land". For this reason, the Government of Paraguay will continue to strive for the strengthening of its relations with all the countries with which we maintain diplomatic relations. Paraguay, as a country without maritime coasts, therefore; faces diverse and particular challenges, typical of this geographic condition, which is why, it has implemented a proactive policy of diversification of its international relations, in the political, economic and commercial sphere. In this sense, our country is strengthening its presence in Asian countries. Likewise, for the paraguayans, regional integration, through the construction of Mercosur, economic block that includes Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, is a must, not an option.
Today, Paraguay is a vibrant democracy and has one of the most prosperous and fastest growing economies in the region. Paraguay gives a relevant role to the rule of law, respect for human rights and a political system based on democracy.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, Ambassador Antonio Rivas Palacios has defined "Economic Diplomacy for Development" as the central axis of the work of the Foreign Service of the Republic. Economic Diplomacy must become one of the backbones of the Paraguay’s Foreign Policy, adjusted to the present circumstances, to the needs of the new realities of this global world, through a strategic use of its advantages and opportunities.
3. Are there any plans for the Head of Government of Your Country to visit Korea this year? Are there any such plans for the important members of your government, including an investment promotion delegation and/or other such visit(s)? If yes, please elaborate.
The Republic of Korea and the Republic of Paraguay will celebrate 58 years of diplomatic relationship in 2020. In this sense, Korea has been a nation close to the affections of the Paraguayan people and a strategic ally to achieve the desired development. Although both countries are geographically distant and historically different, Paraguay and Korea share various commonalities. Solidarity has been a strong element in our relationship. In 1965, Paraguay opened its doors to thousands of Korean immigrants, who, in search of a new beginning, left from the Port of Busan towards the Land Without Evil, Paraguay. And this year, 55 years since the arrival of the first group of Korean migrants to Paraguay, the Korean community, composed of approximately seven thousand people, is an active part of Paraguayan society.
The relations of friendship with the Republic of Korea have not only been strengthened over the past five decades, but have reached a point of maturity in its various manifestations. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the permanent support that Paraguay has shown and demonstrated to the Republic of Korea in the different international forums, as a natural way of expression between two nations that share common values and interests and, very particularly, to be one of the most important strategic allies for Paraguay. The Paraguayan Government has the interest to strengthen the relationship with the Government of the Republic of Korea, through the progress and the realization of a Strategic Partnership for the coming years. For these objective, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Antonio Rivas Palacios, could make an official visit to the Republic of Korea, which would be defined, once the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic allow it, in order to define the lines of future actions to further strengthen the very positive relations between the two countries. Likewise, many national authorities in the economic, education, science and technology, agriculture, and labor areas, among others, would visit Korea to deepen cooperation ties in different sectors.
4. When is your National Day this year? Do you have any celebration plans? Please introduce the National Day.
In the year 2020, the days 14th and 15th May, we celebrate the 209th Anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Paraguay, and we remember the greatness of all national heroes who offered their sweat, blood and life to attain the freedom we are all enjoying now in our motherland. In effect, the insurrection in Paraguay against Spain was influenced by the doctrines proclaimed by the French Revolution. Paraguay already had their Revolt of the Comuneros years earlier (1717-1735), and its principles were identical with those of the French Revolution. In the period of 1810/1811, the Asuncion authorities rejected the proposal from Buenos Aires, to be part of the Argentinean nation. The Paraguayans fought against the Argentinean, defending their autonomy and freedom, in several battles, with a very weak support from the Governor of Spain. This lack of action from the Spanish authorities, exasperated the Paraguayans, and on May 14, 1811, the Revolution broke out. However, the revolution ended on May 15, 1811, with the capitulation of the Spanish authorities, thanks to the actions carried out under the command of the Paraguayan heroes as Captain Pedro Juan Caballero, Captain Mauricio Jose Troche, Doctor Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, Ignacio Iturbe, Fernando de la Mora and others. It is important to remember these facts very briefly, since we are commemorating the 209th Anniversary of the Independence of Paraguay.
This year 2020, due to the situation of the covid 19 outbreak, we will not be able to make an official event, to which previous years, we used to invite authorities, congressmen, businessmen, members of the press and citizens of the Republic of Korea. Instead, we will send gifts to Paraguayan students and families residing in Korea. We will have the opportunity to celebrate this day, and the 58th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Paraguay, on another occasion.
5. What, if any, are the important developments scheduled between Korea and your country?
This year, on the occasion of the 58th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and Paraguay, our relationship has been developed considerably with more exchanges in various sectors. And Paraguay always has been supporting the Republic of Korea on international stage. The cooperation offered by Korean government has significantly contributed to the economic and social development of Paraguay. Currently, there are more than 7, 000 Korean emigrants living in Paraguay, since 1965, contributing their efforts to our country.
Paraguay has a great potential as a production and logistics base for entry into the Brazilian and Argentine markets, because its tax system is simplified and one of the lowest level of taxes in the region, its production costs is lower compare to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, and many other benefits for Korean companies and investors.
Paraguay is a founder member of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR); the organization constitutes one of the mainstays of its foreign policy, its main regional integration objective, and its platform for the negotiation of agreements beyond the MERCOSUR region. Paraguay is undergoing a process of becoming more deeply integrated into MERCOSUR and achieving the objectives set out in the Treaty of Asunción.
Through MERCOSUR, Paraguay has maintained a firm position in favor of fulfilling the essential purposes of the Treaty. of Asunción, which are economic-commercial, as well as an active external relationship, with other countries or blocks of countries. The negotiation process between MERCOSUR and the Republic of KOREA Trade Agreement has begun, and during 2020 the sixth round of negotiations will be held in Seoul. This Trade Agreement would be an excellent platform in order to enhance the economic cooperation and strengthen business relation among companies of both sides.
The Paraguayan Government has the interest to strengthen the relationship with the Government of the Republic of Korea, through the progress and the realization of a Strategic Partnership for the coming years. For these objective, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Antonio Rivas Palacios, could make an official visit to the Republic of Korea, which would be defined, once the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic allow it, in order to define the lines of future actions to further strengthen the very positive relations between the two countries. Likewise, many national authorities in the economic, education, science and technology, agriculture, and labor areas, among others, would visit Korea to deepen cooperation ties in different sectors.
6. What is the current volume of bilateral trade, its outlook in the next 12 months?
The trade volume between Paraguay and Korea is about 300 millions US$. Indeed, in addition to the strong political and cooperation relations, the commercial pillar is an important part of our relationship, from which Korean and Paraguayan businessmen are increasingly benefit. In this way, Paraguayan companies offer Korean consumers products from the rich Guaraní land, such as the natural sweetener known as stevia, yerba mate, chia, sesame, meat products, charcoal, fruit juices, soybean and derivatives, leather, among other products.
7. What are your competitive fields of industry and products attractive to Korea and what are Korean products and services that your country might wish to import?
Paraguay has a great potential as a production and logistics base for entry into the Brazilian and Argentine markets, because its tax system is simplified and one of the lowest level of taxes in the region, its production costs is lower compare to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, and many other benefits for Korean companies and investors. Paraguay is the first exporter of hydroelectricity in the world, as it has three dams, and two of them are among the biggest in the world: Itaipú, dam that belongs to Paraguay and Brazil; and Yacyretá, that belongs to Paraguay and Argentina. We are the fourth largest exporter of soybeans worldwide and the sixth largest meat exporter. Paraguay produces wheat, rice, corn, chicken meat, pork meat, organic sugar, cotton, mate tea, others. Despite having no maritime coastline, our country has the third largest river barge fleet in the world, after China and the United States of America.
Paraguay enjoys good climate, fertile land and many other natural resources, with more than 90 rivers and one of the largest reserves of fresh water in the world, the Guaraní aquifer.
The Paraguayan Government and Companies would like to forge collaborative relationships such as strategic alliances, joint ventures, and technical cooperation with Korean Companies.
Paraguay would like to work with the Republic of Korea in order to establish a Technology Innovation Center or a Trade Incubator in the Paraguayan territory that would be used by SMEs from Paraguay and Korea aiming to reach Brazilian, Argentina and Uruguay’s market.
The Paraguayan government promotes the production of electric vehicles in the country, based on its large production of electrical energy. We hope that Korean companies in this sector can establish in Paraguay to manufacture electric vehicles. The Government of Paraguay invites to the Korean companies in the sector of electric vehicles. Paraguay has a great potential in this area, since it is the first exporter of electrical energy in the world. Paraguay has a better environment and more advantages for the Korean companies in this area.
Korean presence in Paraguay
Currently, the Korean community in Paraguay is made up of around seven thousand people residing in Asunción, Ciudad del Este, Encarnación and Pedro Juan Caballero. Its members are dedicated to primary production, manufacturing, trade and the provision of services.In the area of primary activities, among other items, Korean farmers satisfy 30% of the egg consumption market in Paraguay. In the manufacturing sector, clothing, towels, school supplies, food and non-alcoholic beverages stand out; also in the manufacture of plastics and in the paper industry (napkins, toilet paper).
Likewise, they are the owners of pantries, bazaars and shops; various items explode: household appliances, footwear and clothing, to name a few. In addition, Korean professionals excel in the fields of medicine, law, journalism, and university teaching.
In 1992, a Korean College was established in the country, the first in South and Central America. His students are examples of a dynamic and successful process of assimilation of a double cultural identity: that of Korea and that of Paraguay. Currently, young people are educated and prepared for this advantageous insertion in the international market. The empowerment and maintenance of this educational center is the result of the joint and coordinated work between the Korean government and the eastern community based in Paraguay.
8. Who are the Korean companies actively engaged in the promotion of economic cooperation between Korea and your country? Do you have any representative Korean companies meriting a special mention for thier exampleary cooperation for the two countries?
Korean companies in Paraguay
The Korean companies have a great advantage when it comes to Paraguayan market because of the following:
Frist, the Korean firms were involved in the Paraguayan market and have operational offices in Paraguay. Secondly, the Korean companies have a good reputation in Paraguay because they undertook infrastructure projects and other investments. Thirdly, Paraguay has a good image of Korean products and they are more advances technologically. Some of the Korean companies in Paraguay are: i) THN Company, producing autoparts and wires for Hyundai Factory in Sao Paulo; ii) NutriHuevos is a brand of the Las Tacuaras S.A. business group. dedicated to the production and marketing of superior quality fresh eggs. This group has diversified its businesses to other areas, such as real estate and others. iii) Born Star de Donghwa Company, to start production of ladies’ hygienic towels and diapers, the first of its type in Paraguay; iv) Shopping Paris, a Korean commercial center in Ciudad del Este; v) Shopping Bonanza, another Korean commercial center in Asuncion; vi) Kim’s Towel, the first Paraguayan brand to manufacture 100% cotton towels, using, of course, the best cotton in the world, the Paraguayan. Its President is Jin Kim, better known as Jimmy, was born in South Korea and came to Paraguay at 2 years of age. His desire to start his own business made Kim’s towel a very important company in the country. KBEC Korea, a waste treatment company, and many others. Hyundai Motors, Samsung, LG and other Korean famous enterprises has offices in Paraguay.
9. What are the attractive tourist destinations of your country?
Paraguay is a bilingual country, unique in the world where a native language, the Guaraní, is recognized as an official national language together with Spanish. This cultural blend is seen in Paraguay's forms of arts, crafts, music, festivals, literature, cinema, fashion and languages. Paraguayan culture and traditions were highly influenced by the presence of Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries in the 17th and 18th centuries, which left magnificent architectural constructions and sculptures that created the Spanish-Guarani baroque culture. In the Paraguayan people, indigenous and Spanish influences converge equally, which makes Paraguay a country of peculiar customs such as the love of yerba mate and the deep knowledge of natural medicine.
Paraguay, a country of roads
Paraguay maintains the privilege of conserving its great natural attractions, which are mixed with historical and cultural relics and great technological works such as the hydroelectric dams of Itaipú and Yacyreta.
The Franciscan and Handcraft Way is a path that follows the footsteps of the Franciscans who founded open villages in many cities in Paraguay, leaving behind valuable works of art. The route, which also allows to know the artisans in their own towns, part from Asunción and leads to Ypané, Altos, Itá, Atyrá, Yaguarón, Piribebuy, Tobatí, Caacupé, Luque, Valenzuela, Villarrica, Caazapá, Areguá, Itauguá and San Juan de Nepomuceno.
The Technological Tourism take you to the most important sites in which are located the huge hydroelectric dams of Itaipú in Hernandarias (to the East of the country) and Yacyretá dam in Ayolas (to the South), as well as the Technological Park of Itaipú.
The Immense Territory of the Paraguayan Chaco includes an impressive array of natural landscapes brimming with animal life. Palmares, estuos, lagoons and dense forests make up these lands, where a small number of immigrants and fourteen native ethnic groups contribute to the diversity of cultures in the country.
Paraguay is a Country of Fishing, Golf and other Sports. Tourists can enjoy of five internationally recognized and regulated golf courses, while the mighty Paraguay, Paraná, Tebicuary and others rivers provide variety and quantity of fish for sport fishermen.
Eco-adventure is another type of tourism that can be done in Paraguay. Its mountain ranges, streams and jumps offer ideal conditions for biking, rappeling, cascading, trekking and other stimulating disciplines for young people and tourist who love natural resources and adventures. The Mbaracayú Forest, the Ybytyryzú Mountain Range and the Vallemí Caverns are some of the favorite destinations for eco-adventures.
The diversity of cultures in Paraguay is reflected in their crafts. From the indigenous tradition, beautiful work is carried out in natural fibers, noble woods, seeds and feathers that become beautiful tapestries, baskets, necklaces, arrows and other articles of excellent completion.
Paraguayan handicrafts also offer delicate textiles such as a'o po'í embroidery and ñandutí lace, gold and silver filigree jewelry, carved horn vessels, hammocks, blankets, wood carved images, ceramic objects and Infinity of other articles in which the creativity and the skill of the Paraguayan craftsmen stand out
10. Please introduce the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Paraguay
First Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Paraguay to the European Union, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, 1992-1997.
Charge d'Affaires with Cabinet Letter to the Portuguese government. August 2000 - November 2006.
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to the government of the Republic of Ecuador, February 2010 - July 2012.
- Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Paraguay to the Kingdom from Spain, October 2014 - April 2019.
- Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Paraguay Concurrent before the Principality of Andorra, October 2015 - April 2019.
- Accredited Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Paraguay before the World Tourism Organization - UNWTO, 2017 - April 2019.
- Bachelor of Communication Sciences, Faculty of Philosophy, National University of Asunción, 1986.
- Graduated from the Diplomatic and Consular Academy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1987.
- Master in International Politics, Free University of Brussels, Belgium, 1995.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
- Enter in the year 1989.
- Directorate of International Organizations, United Nations area, 1989 - 1991.
- Head of the North America, Central America and the Caribbean Division, 1991-1992.
- Director of International Organizations, 1997-1999.
- December 1999. Promotion to the rank of Embassy Counselor.
- Director General of the Cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1999-2000.
- November 2003. Promotion to the rank of Minister of Embassy.
- Director General of the Cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Nov. 2006 - Sept. 2007.
- Vice Minister of Foreign Relations. September 2007 - August 2008.
- August 2008. Advisor for Multilateral Affairs.
- September 2009, Defense of Thesis for promotion to the rank of Ambassador.
- January 2010. Promotion to the rank of Ambassador.
- Vice Minister of Foreign Relations. September 2012 - August 2013.
- September 2013. Diplomatic Link of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the National Congress.
- Vice Minister of Foreign Relations. May 2019.
Marital Status: Married (2 Children)
11. Please introduce yourself in detail, including your career, family and hobbies.
Ambassador of the Republic of Paraguay in the Republic of Korea, from July 2015, and with concurrent accreditation to Singapore, Mongolia, Cambodia and Philippines.
He graduated as an economist at the National University of Asunción, in 1984. In addition to his Master in Business Administration from the Catholic University of Asunción and the Central American Institute of Business administration (INCAE), took numerous courses of post degree in Administration, finance, macroeconomics, trade and international marketing, industrial projects, strategic planning, economic development, legal rules of international trade, and other fields, in Belgium, Chile, Japan, Paraguay and Switzerland.
He is a graduate from the Diplomatic and Consular Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, in 1992, and after when he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 1993, has held various positions as Director General of economic policy, Director General of International Commerce, Director of Trade and Investment, Director of Infrastructure and International Transport, among others. He was in charge of office of the Deputy Minister of Economic Relations and Integration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on numerous occasions.
In the Foreign Service, he has served as Commercial Attache of the Embassy of the Republic of the Paraguay in Malaysia, Minister of the Embassy of Paraguay to the Republic of China in Taiwan, Director General of the Overseas Promotion (PROPARAGUAY) in Taipei, Minister of the Paraguayan Mission to the European Union and the Embassy of Paraguay to Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherland, Minister of the Embassy and Alternate Representative of the Mission of Paraguay to WTO, Geneva, Switzerland. In addition, he has participated in various forums and meetings in the context of the United Nations Conference for trade and development (UNCTAD), International Labor Organization(ILO), World Health Organization(WTO) and Other international institutions with headquarters in Geneva, in which participates the Paraguay.
He has also worked in Coca Cola Company (Paraguay Refresco S.A.), in the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Central Bank of Paraguay, he was President of the National Cement Industry, Director of Project "Strengthening the Competitiveness of the Paraguayan Export Sector (FOCOSEP) funded by the European Union.
He is professor of economy, trade, international negotiations and administration in several universities and of the Diplomatic Academy and Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in other entities of Paraguay. He wrote numerous research works in economy, commerce and international relations. Active participation as directors and/or member in various professional institutions and of solidarity, in the Paraguay and other countries. He was awarded from the KIST (Korea Institute of Science and Technology) by the publication of the City of Seoul. Distinguished by the Korean Press Federation (KPF) with the recognition "Contribution of diplomacy" that was granted by their actions and expressions that contributed to the promotion of peace in the Korean peninsula and for the excellent presentation of Paraguayan culture in Korea.
He was born in Asunción, Paraguay, married with Olga Centurión and they have 5 children.