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Japanese PM discusses Mercosur FTA with Paraguay’s President

Merco Press - 4 May 2024

Japanese PM discusses Mercosur FTA with Paraguay’s President

Paraguayan President Santiago Peña and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met Friday in Asunción to strengthen bilateral ties as well as to further discuss a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Southern Common Market (Mercosur). Peña, who holds the group’s rotating presidency, expressed in a statement his “fervent desire” to “move forward with a free trade agreement between Mercosur and Japan.”

Japan is said too be particularly interested in food trade and also in countering China’s influence in the region. Paraguay’s strategic alignment with the United States and Taiwan is another reason for Japan’s interest in the country.

The measure would follow suit on a similar FTA signed recently with Singapore and another under negotiation with the United Arab Emirates. “We are determined to integrate into the world hand in hand with our allies and we see Japan as a very important ally,” said Peña.

Kishida replied that “there are great expectations on the part of Japanese businessmen about investment opportunities in our country and I am convinced that Paraguay is an indispensable friend for Japan.” He also underlined that Paraguay was a “reliable partner” with like common “values and principles such as freedom and democracy, human rights and the rule of law.” Hence, “we will take our relations to higher levels,” Kishida pledged while underlining that diplomatic relations between Japan and Paraguay were already 105 years old.

Paraguay is also home to more than 10,000 descendants of Japanese immigrants, Kishida noted. I am proud that Japanese immigration and descendants have contributed significantly to the development of Paraguay and have gained the respect of the Paraguayan people,“ he stressed.

The Japanese Prime Minister also underllined the current ”complex“ international scenario in which ties with Paraguay were ”increasingly important.“

Kishida also pointed out that ”this year is the year of Latin America and the Caribbean” because the region will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (Apec) in Lima, and the G20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

During his speech, the PM also announced that memorandums related to climate change, trade, investment, information, communications and space cooperation were signed.

Paraguay seeks cooperation in telecommunications, energy, renewable technology, and space exploration whereas Japanese companies like Kawasaki, Hitachi, and Toyota have already invested in Paraguay.

Kishida’s tour with an entourage of some 40 leading Japanese businessmen began in France, where he met with President Emmanuel Macron, and will conclude in Brazil, where he will discuss environmental cooperation with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

 source: Merco Press