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France and Guatemala

Political relations

Bilateral relations have gained momentum since 2013, with the successive visits to Guatemala by the French Ambassador for Human Rights in April of that year, the Minister Delegate for French Nationals Abroad from 16 to 20 May 2013, and the Guatemalan Ministers for the Economy and External Relations to Paris in September and November 2013.

The President of the Republic’s personal envoy for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr Jean-Pierre Bel, made a visit to Guatemala from 6 to 8 April 2016, during which he was received by the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Carlos Raúl Morales. He also met with the Head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), Mr Ivan Velásquez.

President Jimmy Morales made a visit to France from 8 to 11 June 2017, accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Relations, the Minister of Finance, and the Minister of the Economy, Mr Victor Asturias Cordón. This was his first visit to Europe and the first visit to France by a President of Guatemala since that of President Álvaro Arzú in 1999. He was received by the President of the Republic, the Minsters of the Economy and the Interior, the President of the Senate, and the Mayor of Paris.

Economic relations

Guatemala is France’s third-largest trading partner in Central America, after Panama and Costa Rica. In 2017, bilateral trade – which is almost balanced – amounted to €100 million. This figure has been stable for the past five years. Our main exports to Guatemala include pharmaceutical products, perfumes and cosmetics, with dairy products growing in importance. Our Guatemalan imports are agricultural and agrifood products.

About 20 French companies are established in Guatemala, as commercial subsidiaries particularly in consumer goods, telecommunications, electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals and services. The French-British company Perenco is the leading French investor in Guatemala and the country’s largest oil operator.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

The cooperation envelope is regionalized and projects are implemented from the Institut Français in Central America (IFAC) based in Costa Rica. French cooperation efforts rely on the cultural network of Alliance Française branches in Guatemala City, Quetzaltenango and Antigua, as well as the French Lycée Jules Verne, which has more than 950 students. France was the guest of honour at the Guatemala City International Book Fair in 2018.

The regional office of the Centre for Mexican and Central American Studies (CEMCA) ensures coordination with the scientific and academic communities, in the fields of social sciences and archaeology, the latter being a key element of our cooperation.

Almost 150 Guatemalan students are enrolled in French higher education establishments, making France the fifth most-popular destination worldwide behind the United States, Cuba, Spain and Honduras.

Since 2016, the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM) has worked with FUNDAECO, a Guatemalan NGO, contributing €1.5 million to a project seeking to reduce Guatemala City’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change.

Updated: 24 October 2018