U.S. encourages economic reform

ACCESS to North American markets is a priority for Paraguay

RELATIONS with the United States have strengthened considerably since Paraguay’s return to democracy in 1989.
Since then, with U.S. encouragement, Paraguay has adopted a new constitution, established freedom of expression, and developed a transparent and free election process, as recently demonstrated during the presidential and parliamentary elections in May.

At the swearing in of the new U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay, John Keane, in January, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Paraguayans should be proud of their democracy, and that the country stood “on the threshold of a promising future.”
The United States would provide encouragement to the introduction of market-oriented reforms, which would attract investment and generate new growth, he pledged.

Mr. Armitage praised Paraguay as “a staunch member of the international coalition against terrorism.”
According to Leila Rachid, who has served as Paraguayan Ambassador to the United States, “Paraguay has been the only country in the continent to make radical and firm decisions, and take measures to support the U.S. fight against terrorism.”

She emphasizes that Paraguay’s stance, both on terrorism, and on combating other international evils, results from its sense of national and international responsibilities.
“Our political agenda—our fight against terrorism, against piracy, against money-laundering, and against drugs—is not carried out because any country requires us to do it. We are committed to it to prove to the world that we are an honest and reliable country,” she says.

Ms. Rachid makes the point, however, that economic issues are closely linked to political ones, and bolstering its position as a friend of the United States can only benefit Paraguay in terms of trade and investment.
The United States is Paraguay’s fifth largest bilateral donor, after Japan, Germany, the European Union, and Spain. U.S. assistance toward Paraguay’s development dates back to 1937.

The U.S. Government is committed to helping to consolidate and fortify Paraguay’s democracy, and encourage the process of economic reform. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided support for a number of programs to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions.
For Paraguay, however, the key to the further development of its relationship with the United States is trade. U.S. imports from Paraguay totaled just $43.7 million in 2002, while U.S. exports to Paraguay were almost ten times as much—$433 million.

Access to North American markets for its meat, clothing, organic sugar, and confectionery is high on Paraguay’s wish list.
As a senior government official puts it, “The United States is one of the countries with the most influence in Paraguay, but our commercial relations are almost nil. What we must talk about is what the United States can buy from us.”

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