Paraguay's President Santiago Peña says "it does not matter who is elected” in Argentina's election in terms of regional “integration” and insists he will look to expanding trade horizons if Mercosur does not finalise its long-trailed free-trade agreement with the European Union (EU) this year.
“Argentina is very close to our hearts, we suffer when Argentina suffers, but the reality is it doesn’t matter who is elected” because “it won’t affect the regional integration process,” Peña said during a colloquium at the Wilson Center in Washington
The right-wing leader made these statements one day after Sergio Massa and Javier Milei progressed to the second round of Argentina's presidential election.
As for Mercosur, Peña reiterated his ultimatum to the EU: if both parties do not conclude the free-trade agreement with the South American bloc, he will focus on other regions when his nation takes over the pro-tempore presidency of the bloc from Brazil.
“For 25, nearly 30 years, we have focused all our efforts in one agreement, the EU (...) I hope we can close it by the end of the year,” said Peña.
Otherwise, the Paraguyan leader will examine alternatives such as the United Arab Emirates, which “is not only the gateway to the Middle East, but to the world,” or Singapore, which he described as “a dynamic economy."
Paraguay, the Partido Colorado leader assured, would not object to a trade deal between Mercosur and China despite recognising Taiwan, an autonomous island Beijing considers part of its territory.
Peña stated that he laid out his Taiwanese view on relations with countries to Brazil and Argentina: “I was very clear from the start. This is not negotiable ... If Mercosur wants a deal with China” in the future “we won’t object to it, but we won’t abandon our relationship ... with Taiwan.”
Addressing the country's foreign policy, Peña said it “is based on democratic values” but “faith is not uninmportant” because Paraguay’s population is 90 percent Catholic, and thus its identify and values come from Judaism,” who confirmed he would look to move Paraguay's Embassy to Jerusalem,
While in Washington, Peña will visit the Organisation of American States (OAS and meet US Congresspeople and businesspeople. A meeting with US President Joe Biden, whose government was invited to cooperate in the “fight against corruption” after his electoral victory in May, is not on the cards.
The economist acknowledged Monday that corruption is “an endemic problem" in Paraguay "that needs to be worked on” but reminded Washington that Latin America is a region with “huge opportunities, but without close attention it could be a source of instability in the future."