Paraguay is perhaps the least known, least understood country in the Americas—an enigma. It’s also a country with a complicated, troubled past and a nation today of stark contrasts.
Sounds like our kind of place.
Lief and I have been wanting to see Paraguay for ourselves for years. Finally, here we are, in Asunción. We’ll be reporting from the scene in real time throughout the week.
In the live, travel, invest overseas world, Paraguay is an underdog. We like underdogs. However, there’s a more compelling reason to be paying attention to this little-thought-of country right now. Paraguay doesn’t boast mega-tourist attractions, but it’s got something that should catch your attention as a global investor—a burgeoning agricultural industry and oodles of fertile land.
Paraguay is the world’s 10th-largest exporter of wheat.
It’s also the world’s eighth-largest beef exporter, seventh-largest exporter of corn, sixth-largest producer of soy, fifth-largest exporter of chia and soy flour, and fourth-largest exporter of yucca flour and soy oil.
Paraguay is the second-biggest stevia producer and exporter in the world and the world’s #1 exporter of organic sugar.
This country is also a competitive and tax-friendly investment hub. You pay no tax on yields earned from an investment in the Asunción stock exchange, and both the value-added (or sales) tax and the rate of corporate tax are 10%. This corporate tax rate compares nicely with those in Argentina (35%), Colombia and Brazil (34%), and Peru (30%).
At about 400,000 square kilometers, Paraguay is the size of California. It has a total population of 7 million (70% of which is younger than 30 years old), a working population of 3.1 million, and a GDP of US$26 billion. The guarani is the official currency; the current rate of exchange between the guarani and the U.S. dollar is about 4,975 to 1.
Paraguay’s capital, Asunción, from where I write, is located on the country’s western edge alongside the Paraguay River (think Mississippi River) and serves as a regional hub. You can fly from Asunción to most anywhere you’d want to go in South America—Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Sao Paolo, La Paz—within two hours. The country beyond the capital is divided into 17 departments, and the country overall is natural disaster risk free.
GDP and GDP per capita are both expanding, and the 10% rate of personal income tax is the lowest in the region. Elsewhere in South America, earners are paying 35% to 40%.
Inflation is historically a one-digit number and has not surpassed 5% in recent years. This speaks to the country’s stability.
Paraguay qualifies right now as a “blue ocean” market, an investment arena awash with opportunity. We, of course, are most interested in emerging property investment opportunities, rural, urban, and agricultural. The very young population, as it matures, is all going to need places to live, making the local housing market an interesting bet right now.
And, in the current global climate, a country with such an impressive agri-track record is definitely worth focused attention.
We’re thrilled, finally, to be here to take a look at all that Paraguay has to offer up-close and firsthand.