Why Invest in Paraguay?
Following our recent announcement that Adam Richardson and I will be in Paraguay in May, and the invitation to readers to join us for a few days of fun and scouting out opportunities, Frederick and Aubrey at our virtual front desk received quite a lot of feedback asking ‘why Paraguay?’.
This post is designed to answer that question.
I’ve been writing about Paraguay from a financial, investing, asset protection and lifestyle perspective since I first went there a decade ago, and in the meantime I’ve seen plenty of new opportunities open up there. I can assure readers that Paraguay is well worth a look for those seeking freedom, wealth and privacy – the three tenets of the Q Wealth philosophy.
I’ll admit, however, that it’s not an obvious choice. Most people would be hard placed to identify Paraguay on a map, never mind have it on their radar as a place to invest, live, or even set up a company. That, of course, is part of the attraction!
With hindsight, I think we also have made a bit of a miscalculation in our initial announcement by focusing on the residency and passport opportunities. Whilst official residency and citizenship are important parts of any family’s life plan, Paraguay is by no means just about that. In the big scheme of things, the ease of acquiring residency and the possibility of obtaining a passport in relatively short order are just the icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned.
So just what is it I like about Paraguay?
FREEDOM TO DO BUSINESS
Wikipedia’s article on the Paraguayan economy opens with this sentence: “Paraguay has a market economy characterized by a large informal sector.” That, in a nutshell, is what we love about it.
They frankly seem pretty happy with their ‘large informal sector’ – whereas most other governments these days would be talking about the need to formalize and regulate everything down to the last detail. Although like most Latin American countries Paraguay suffers from superficial low-level bureaucracy, its government has never ‘got into’ over-regulation.
The bottom line is if you want to do business here, provided you are not treading on other people’s toes, nobody will bother you. You don’t need to live in fear the Health and Safety Inspectors or the tax office or the social security people as businessmen in so many first world countries do.
I believe Paraguay has the freest economy in South America. I don’t have statistics to back that up, but I can certainly say it is true based on first-hand experience. And that is one of the reasons for inviting a group of international investors to Paraguay in May – because you really need to put boots on the ground and see it for yourself.
In fact, last time we were there we had a couple of highly productive meetings with top government officials, and we intend to follow up on that this May. Most definitely, the government is keen to attract foreign investors which is already a good sign.
While Paraguay’s domineering neighboring countries Brazil and Argentina have economies that are deliberately closed to foreigners, Paraguay’s has always been very open. Until relatively recently it was closed by geography and under-development – but with the internet and better air links, this has changed.
WELCOMING TO FOREIGNERS
I don’t like to generalize about nationalities, but I’ll do so in this case to make a point. The Paraguayans, along with their cousins the Uruguayans, are really some of the friendliest and most welcoming people I have met anywhere – and I have traveled a lot.
This is a cultural thing that has been reflected right up to (or down from, who knows?) the constitution. I’ve already mentioned that it’s easy for foreigners to acquire legal residence in Paraguay – basically a $5,000 investment in the country (or even in a bank account) is enough to qualify.
Yes, that’s right, while other countries ask for $500,000 or more, Paraguay asks for $5,000.
With this official permanent residence, any foreigner has equal rights to do anything Paraguayan citizens can do, except vote in elections. There is none of this discrimination against foreigners or dozens of different types of residency for foreigners with different permissions about what they can and can’t do.
Paraguay has been criticized in the past for harboring Nazis after the second world war. What is less well known, however, is that Paraguay also harbored Jews who were fleeing persecution. Basically, anybody coming looking for peace is welcome in Paraguay.
OUR KIND OF PRESIDENT
The Paraguayan president, Horacio Manuel Cartes, is universally popular with the Paraguayan business community at all levels and over the past year he has made more moves to open up the economy. You don’t read much about him, simply because you don’t read much about Paraguay.
Paraguay is a backwater and all the international news organizations try, rather unsuccessfully, to cover it from Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires.
At Q Wealth, one of our arch-nemesis organizations (figuratively speaking) is the ICIJ. Whereas we stand for freedom, wealth and privacy, they apparently stand for greater government regulation, attacks on the wealthy and publishing people’s private financial arrangements on the internet.
They’ve been writing negative articles about President Cartes since before he became President – like this one, about how he was involved in ownership of a Cook Islands offshore bank.
My view on this? Anyone smart enough to start an offshore bank is definitely our kind of guy!
The same organization, in a survey on the global tobacco business called Smuggling Made Easy, calls Paraguay a ‘smuggler’s paradise.’ That article certainly reads as a ripping yarn – these journalists would do well writing spy thrillers. The reality of visiting Paraguay’s Ciudad del Este is rather disappointing for those of us who were looking forward on our first visit to finding a free-wheeling smuggler’s paradise. But still – it’s worth seeing with your own eyes.
VIRTUALLY UNLIMITED GREEN ENERGY
Paraguay is not all politically incorrect. At the other end of the spectrum there’s something else impressive about the country: its green credentials. Little Paraguay is the world’s biggest exporter of green energy. Does that surprise you?
Hydropower comprises nearly 100 percent of electricity in Paraguay, 90 percent of generated energy is exported. Paraguay is a major supplier of the energy needed to run Brazilian industry, and it’s all generated from renewable sources.
UNTAPPED AGRICULTURAL OPPORTUNITIES
The hydropower offers a clue to something else very important: fresh water reserves. Much of the world is steadily running out of fresh water. Paraguay has a vast surplus of it.
Land plus water equals agricultural opportunity. Paraguayan beef, for those in the know, is already some of the best in the world. The country has also become a leading producer of Soybean. The land is so fertile that farmers can obtain several crops a year.
As the world needs more food and more water, Paraguay is ideally positioned to prosper. And while we’re at it, wouldn’t it be quite cool to have official residence in a country with plentiful food and water?
These opportunities have not been lost on farmers from Brazil or Argentina, who often show up with briefcases full of dollars to buy land. Argentinian farmers, in particular, have been squeezed hard by their home government and love Paraguay’s free economy with no export restrictions or taxes. Still, there’s plenty of potential, plenty of cheap raw land.
OTHER NATURAL RESOURCES
At Q Wealth, we are hard money investors – we believe in natural resources. We’ve written extensively about gold, diamonds, oil, rare earth metals and uranium. Here, too, Paraguay has huge untapped potential. There is no doubt that all these resources exist in Paraguay and have barely been exploited as yet. A few public companies from the US, Canada and Europe are exploiting concessions in a small way.
This is all relatively recent and in my view is set to boom.
Next-door Bolivia has huge natural gas reserves in its territory bordering the Paraguayan Chaco. One of the last unexplored wildernesses of the world, the Chaco – the Paraguayan territory far from the capital and the relatively industrialized south of the country – is likely to contain natural gas reserves too.
Right now, the only way to reach much of this territory is by air or on horseback, since roads are virtually non-existent. This of course will change too.
So, as you can see, I think Paraguay has a great deal to offer besides and easy and cheap route to a second residency, and potentially to a second citizenship for those who show more commitment to the country.
For those not familiar with the format of our recent ‘events’ – really they are ‘non-events!’ At the end of 2012 we decided to stop doing traditional events, with presenters showing power-points in five star hotels. Frankly, we got bored with them.
The three events we have done since then have all been very hands-on, very informal. All of them, while very different, have been highly successful and much appreciated by the people who attended.
It works something like this: we announce “The Q Wealth team are going to be in a certain country, on certain dates, checking out opportunities and having high level meetings with movers and shakers. Feel free to join us.”
The dates are fixed, but the schedule is informal and flexible. If you want to do something of your own alongside (like a vacation) you are very welcome. You can choose to come to some of the meetings and not others.
We charge a small fee for facilitating the organization involved, and in this case we’ve included transport. You might be expected to buy your own lunch. One thing we can guarantee is that there will be no sales pitch.
We simply facilitate meetings with key people: lawyers, government officials, bankers and the like.
We introduce them, they introduce themselves. At the same time, you get to rub shoulders with other Q Wealth readers – generally very interesting people, with a similar world-view, who have been researching similar topics and are open to exchanging ideas and information.
Last but not least, you have a chance to meet up with members of the Q Wealth team and discuss other opportunities.
To find out more about our upcoming Paraguay trip in May, visit http://www.qwealthevents.com
Comments? Talk To Us Below.