On September 26 and 27, 2023, in Asunción, Paraguay and the United States held the second meeting of the Trade and Investment Council under the Paraguay-United States Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
Ambassador Victor Verdún, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Daniel Watson, Assistant United States Trade Representative for the Western Hemisphere, led the delegations of Paraguay and the United States, respectively, which included officials from multiple agencies. Both countries reaffirmed the importance of the bilateral relationship and took note of the important progress in many areas since the first meeting of the Trade and Investment Council in 2022. They also stressed the need to continue working in coordination to increase and diversify bilateral trade, build a strong foundation for sustainable economic growth, and improve market opportunities, including through women’s equality and economic empowerment and small business development. Topics related to trade rules and transparency, agriculture, biotechnology, sustainability, and economic cooperation were discussed. In addition, the delegations highlighted the importance of transparency and anti-corruption efforts to promote investment and development opportunities. They also shared their mutual commitment to improve circumstances for their citizens, including through high labor standards, environmental sustainability, good governance, inclusivity, and equity. With that in mind, areas of discussion are highlighted below:
Good Regulatory Practices (GRP): The delegations reaffirmed their commitment to continue collaborating with each other on this area of good governance, following the actions and practices identified in the Declaration on Good Regulatory Practices announced in 2022 in Los Angeles with an emphasis on transparency through the posting of draft regulations for public consultation.
Trade Facilitation: Paraguay highlighted the progress made in fulfilling its trade facilitation commitments under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, such as the issuance of Decree No. 8614/2022, which establishes a mechanism for advance publication and consultations in the area of international trade. The delegations discussed how implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement can support a resilient economy, including in agricultural trade. Also, Paraguay presented the draft legislation to eliminate consular fees for commercial transactions which was introduced to its Congress by the Executive Branch. The delegations highlighted the progress made by the T-Fast program and welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding to renew the program until 2025. Likewise, the implementation of the e-Phyto System or Electronic Phytosanitary Certification by Paraguay was celebrated.
Government Procurement: The countries discussed the important role of transparent processes in government procurement to support durable investment and long-term development goals. Representatives from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency described resources available through the Global Procurement Initiative to support Paraguay’s work in this area.
Anti-Corruption: The two countries agreed on the importance of transparency and anti-corruption measures to support trade and investment. The United States shared programs and opportunities to advance formalization in the economy and other ways it is helping address corruption risks in Paraguay. Paraguay shared the results achieved under the National Integrity, Transparency and Anticorruption Plan developed by the National Anti-Corruption Secretariat (SENAC), and efforts to increase business formalization and employment through small and medium-sized (SME) business development.
Intellectual Property: Both countries recognized the role of robust intellectual property protection and enforcement in promoting innovation and creativity, and discussed the progress made since the last meeting through the Work Plan on Intellectual Property. The delegations also reviewed priorities for the coming year and reaffirmed the importance of regular engagement.
Cooperation and Biotechnology – Sustainable Agriculture: Both delegations agreed on the importance of promoting sustainable agriculture, ensuring food security and adopting agricultural policies supported by biotechnology. They discussed Paraguay’s joining the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate / AIM-4C).
The two countries discussed the process to authorize import of raw beef products from Paraguay into the United States and Paraguay’s work to comply with U.S. regulatory requirements. Both delegations highlighted the USDA FSIS determination that Paraguay’s food safety system governing raw intact beef products is equivalent to that of the United States, the publication of the USDA APHIS proposed rule, and the conclusion of the public consultations. Paraguay hopes to be able to export raw beef products to the U.S. market as soon as possible.
Additionally, the two countries discussed priority issues for market opportunities, especially for SMEs and non-traditional products from Paraguay. The delegation of Paraguay also expressed the importance it places on its sugar exports to the United States.
Lastly, the two countries expressed support for congressional efforts to reauthorize Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), and Paraguay reiterated its interest in receiving benefits under the GSP program.
The third meeting of the TIFA Council is planned to be held in the United States in 2024.