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Paraguay President Benitez visits Germany

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Paraguay President Benitez visits Germany

Paraguay President Mario Abdo Benitez visits Germany to discuss the stalled Mercosur-EU free trade agreement. Photo: Michael Brochstein/Financial Times

Paraguay President Mario Abdo Benitez concludes his visit to Germany today.

Benitez met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the President of the German Parliament Bärbel Bas to strengthen bilateral trade relations. He will also speak at an event in Hamburg to German businessmen interested in investing in Latin America.

The meeting comes alongside a stalled free trade agreement between the Mercosur trade bloc – Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay – and the EU. Germany and France have blocked the ratification of the agreement since 2020 due to concerns over poor environmental provisions, lack of protections for Brazil’s indigenous communities and hesitation from European agricultural associations.

EU investment and trade is crucial for Mercosur states’ economic development. Trade in goods and services between the four Mercosur countries and the EU reached $113.5 billion USD in 2021. The EU is the biggest foreign investor in the Mercosur region as stock of investment reached $330 billion in 2020.

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Expect Benitez to use the visit to persuade Germany to revisit the trade agreement in the short-term. Importantly, Benitez will likely exploit the re-election of former President Luiz Inacio ‘Lula’ da Silva in Brazil to ease environmental concerns in Germany and facilitate talks.

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