Paraguay Country Report
Mario Abdo Benítez of the ruling Colorado Party (Partido Colorado: PC) was elected as Paraguay's new president on 22 April 2018; and took office on 15 August, replacing former president Horacio Cartes. He is expected to continue with the pro-business polices promoted by Cartes, including low taxation and openness to foreign direct investment. Abdo Benítez, a supporter of agribusiness, will face significant social and security challenges, such as occupation of large farms by landless peasants and terrorism attacks by the guerrilla Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo. IHS Markit expects robust GDP growth of 4.4% in 2018 and inflation of 4.2%. Downside risks for Paraguay are related to lower soft commodity prices and the economic weakness of its main trading partner,Brazil.
The business environment is undermined by weak political institutions and endemic corruption and inadequate infrastructure, particularly telecommunications, which remains one of the least efficient in the region as well air transportation. Paraguay ranked 122nd out of 138 countries for the quality of its infrastructure in the 2016–17 Global Competitiveness Report released by the World Economic Forum. This poses challenges to conducting business given that population centres are widely dispersed across the country and remote areas are not adequately served by roads and other transport infrastructure. A range of projects to improve infrastructure are under way through a private-public partnership law.
The small guerrilla group Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo (EPP) poses the main terrorist threat; it operate in the northeastern departments of Concepción and San Pedro. The EPP, approximately 100-fighters strong, sporadically attacks security forces and landowners; with cattle ranching and soybean producers facing arson attacks and kidnapping. The former Cartes government's promised to dislodge the EPP but without much success; such task will fall to the newly elect government of Mario Abdo Benítez. The number of police and civilians killed by the EPP under Cartes exceeds that of his predecessors. The EPP threat is likely to remain highly localised, posing limited threat to major business assets.
Paraguay's growing economic integration with Brazil and Argentina, together with its membership of the Mercosur economic bloc, has helped the country to foster good relations with its neighbours. Despite some sources of potential friction with Brazil over smuggling (drugs, weapons, and contraband), these are highly unlikely to lead to military confrontation. Brazil has instead deepened its intelligence co-operation with Paraguay to tackle the significant involvement of Brazilian gangs in drug trafficking along the Brazil-Paraguay border. Internally Paraguay is trying to contain the expansion of Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo guerrillas, a small rebel outfit whose operations are localised to two northern provinces.
Demands for land reform constitute the main source of unrest in Paraguay. Successive governments' failure to implement land reform has been at the centre of the most disruptive protests in recent years. The umbrella National Peasants' Confederation (Federación Nacional Campesina: FNC) has been the leading force, vowing to escalate land takeovers to press for the acceleration of settlements. The departments with the largest number of land occupations are Alto Paraguay, Caaguazú, Caazapá, Guairá, and Itapúa. More recently, social movements have launched protests against the Public Private Partnership Law, passed by Congress in 2013.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over one year of age.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Yellow Fever: A vaccine is available for children over the age of one year.
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - chloroquine (sometimes marketed as Nivaquine) for travel to the east of the country.
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Flooding is relatively common in the country, especially along its main river (the Paraguay River) and in the capital region, in large part due to inefficient drainage systems. Flooding in Asunción in late 2015/early 2016 forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.
Ground transportation is often hazardous due to the poor quality of roads and highways and the often-risky driving habits of locals. Many streets flood and/or become impassable during the rainy season (November-April). It is best to avoid driving on tertiary roads at night.
Foreign visitors should also be aware that tourist infrastructure (hotels, restaurants), while decent in the capital, may be significantly less developed - even nonexistent - in other areas.
The country's electrical infrastructure is outdated and in need of upgrading. As such, power outages are relatively common, including in the capital, particularly on hot summer days when increased use of air conditioner units puts a major strain on the electrical network.
Paraguay's climate is hot and humid. Summers (January to March) are very hot (with temperatures reaching 40°C and sometimes even 50°C); winter temperatures, much more pleasant, can fluctuate wildly (between 5°C and 25°C in a single day). Humidity levels are high throughout the year, unpleasant in the winter as well as in the summer. The rainy season, which extends from October until April, often sees torrential rains and floods. Autumn and spring are pleasant.
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz