Presentation

Political relations

Bilateral relations have been punctuated by political consultations at senior official level, most recently in Asunción and Paris on 16 December 2013 and 10 March 2016 respectively. Among the main themes of our bilateral relationship are academic and professional mobility, reducing poverty, democratic and economic governance, cooperation regarding public health, etc.

Visits

With the exception of General de Gaulle’s visit during his tour to South America in 1964, no bilateral visits took place between France and Paraguay during the dictatorship of General Stroessner (1954-1989). Bilateral relations resumed at the highest level with the visit to Paris of President Wasmosy in April 1994 (the first visit by a Paraguayan Head of State to France, followed by another in December 1995). The President of the French Republic visited Asunción in March 1997 and President Duarte Frutos visited France in 2006.

Since then, there has been regular contact between the two countries, which has increased significantly since September 2015:

  • 11 January 2015: during his visit to Paris, Mr Eladio Loizaga, Paraguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs, took part in the solidarity march on 11 January.
  • 24-27 February 2015: visit to Asunción by Mr Jean-Pierre Bel, Personal Envoy of the President of the French Republic for Latin America and the Caribbean and former Speaker of the French Senate.
  • 5-6 March 2015: visit to France by the Paraguayan Minister of External Relations and meeting with the French Foreign Minister.
  • May 2015: visit to Asunción by two French Senators (and by the constituency’s Deputy).
  • 30 November 2015: President Horacio Cartes of Paraguay gave the first national statement at the COP21 ceremony.
  • 9-10 March 2016: visit to France by the Paraguayan Foreign Minister and meeting with the French Foreign Minister.
  • April 2016: visit to Paraguay by the Senator for French nationals abroad, Olivier Cadic, to attend the Second Paraguay-Europe Investment Forum. Visit to Paraguay by a delegation of the French Senate’s France-Southern Cone countries Friendship Group, led by the Group’s President, Mr Simon Sutour, and creation by the Paraguayan Senate of a friendship group with France.
  • 23-24 May 2016: visit to Paris by the Paraguayan Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Gustavo Leite, who gave a talk on Paraguay at MEDEF International.
  • 3 June 2016: visit to Paris by President Cartes to take part in an international economic forum organized by the French Ministry of the Economy and Finance, the OECD and the IDB, followed by a meeting with President Hollande.
  • 3 March 2017: meeting between Mr Jean-Pierre Bel, Personal Envoy of the President of the French Republic for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Mr Eladio Loizaga, Paraguayan Foreign Minister.

For further information, please visit the French Embassy in Paraguay website (in French).

Economic relations

Paraguay, which is France’s 16th-largest market in Latin America, remains a modest trading partner for France. However, our exports have increased sharply (they have more than doubled since 2010). In 2016, French exports stood at €55 million and imports €28 million. France’s commercial presence focuses on the medicines and vaccines sector (Sanofi), perfumes and cosmetics (L’Oréal), the automotive industry (Renault, PSA, Michelin), agricultural machinery (Kuhn), agri-food and chemicals (Louis-Dreyfus, Roullier Group (fertilizers)), the service sector (Oberthur Technologies, CMA-CGM (sea transport), and AXA Assistance insurance company), as well as the production of materials (Saint-Gobain). The Accor hotel chain has signed a franchise agreement to build a Hotel Ibis which opened in September 2010, while a second hotel has opened in Ciudad del Este. Cereals, in particular soya bean, and oilseeds became top Paraguayan exports to France. They were followed by spices, essential oils, sugar, yarns, and meat. The presence of French trademarks does not always appear in the trade balance, as certain products (vehicles) are assembled in or imported from Brazil or Argentina. Finally, the Vatel group opened a hotel management school in Asunción in March 2012 and is now established in the premises of the Alliance française in Asunción.

French firms are showing growing interest in the opportunities offered by Paraguay, mainly via the help of the France-Paraguay Chamber of Commerce.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Language and educational cooperation with Paraguay is being developed through the Carlos Antonio Lopez national scholarship programme launched in 2015. The programme aims to provide 1,500 scholarships enabling the best Paraguayan students to study at one of the top 350 universities in the world. French universities and student mobility operators, Campus France and SFERE, mobilized to provide places for 84 Paraguayan government scholarship holders in master’s and PhD programmes at the start of the 2016 academic year. In 2016, 80 Paraguayan teachers received management training in France.

Language and educational cooperation relies locally on the ambition of the Alliance française teaching centre in Asunción (more than 830 students) and the Marcel Pagnol French International School (517 students, including over 180 French nationals). Both institutions have undergone significant modernization in recent years. The Molière Room at the Alliance française, which was the only place of intellectual debate under the dictatorship, was renovated in 2010. The School, which had only 260 pupils in 2007, is developing a new construction project which could put the number of students at 700.

Our cultural cooperation, despite a modest budget, enjoys a high profile in Paraguay. For 17 years now, we have been organizing the country’s main Visual Arts Award (Matisse Prize) with the Gente de Arte Visual Arts Association. We maintain close cooperation with key cultural institutions and events: the International Film Festival, the International Harp Festival, the National Symphony Orchestra and the Museo del Barro. We now organize regular events (Francophonie Festival, Music Festival) and a number of exceptional events: opening of the Aimé Bonpland Museum in Santa Maria de Fé in 2015, creation of a festival of French film premieres in 2016, and cooperation with a ballet master from the Paris Opera in 2016.

In the field of scientific and technical cooperation, all French regional research networks, namely MATH-AmSud, STIC (ICT)-AmSud and AmSud-Pasteur are now established in Paraguay. A mobility scheme has been established between the École Centrale de Paris (ECP) and the National University of Asunción (framework agreement signed at the end of July 2013), and a “Pierre and Marie Curie” Prize which has been awarded yearly since 2003 to Paraguayan high school science students. Finally, a mission conducted by AP-HP (Greater Paris University Hospitals) visited Paraguay in December 2014 to study the possibility of developing health cooperation. This enabled a framework agreement to be signed in the area of health between AP-HP and the Paraguayan Health Ministry on 21 October 2016.

Other cooperation

Letters of intent regarding cooperation in the areas of defence and meteorology were signed in 2016. An agreement is currently being finalized with regard to air services.

Updated: 23 June 2017

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