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France and Paraguay

Political relations

Bilateral relations are punctuated by political consultations at senior official level. The most recent were held in Asunción on 8 April 2019. The key themes of our bilateral relations include mobility for university students and employees, poverty reduction, democratic and economic governance and cooperation in the field of health.

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 have been regular contacts between the two countries and these have 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.
  • 20-24 November 2017: working visit to France by Humberto Peralta Beaufort, Minister of State for Public Administration.
  • 13-15 March 2019: visit to France by Ms Liz Cramer, Paraguayan Minister for Industry and Trade, head of a business delegation; meeting with the Minister of State, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne.

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 2018, French exports reached €62 million and imports €30 million. They are largely dominated by chemical products, perfumes and cosmetics.

France’s commercial presence focuses on the medicines and vaccines sector (Sanofi), perfumes and cosmetics (L’Oréal), the automotive industry (Renault, PSA, Michelin, Total), agricultural machinery (Kuhn), agri-food and chemicals (Louis-Dreyfus, Roullier Group (fertilizers)), and the service sector (Oberthur Technologies, CMA-CGM (sea transport), and AXA Assistance insurance company). The Accor hotel chain has signed a franchise agreement to build a Hotel Ibis which opened in September 2010, while a second hotel was 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 school in Asunción in March 2012 and is now established in the premises of the Alliance Française in Asunción.

French firms are showing a growing interest in the opportunities offered by Paraguay with the help of the Franco-Paraguayan Chamber of Commerce.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Language and educational cooperation with Paraguay is being developed through the Carlos Antonio Lopez (BECAL) 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. In 2019, a convention was signed between Campus France and the Paraguayan authorities to manage mobility grants for Paraguayan students within the framework of the BECAL programme. In 2017-2018, France hosted 150 Paraguayan students, making it the 5th most popular study abroad destination for students from Paraguay.

Cooperation relies locally on the dynamism of the Alliance Française teaching centre in Asunción (more than 1600 students) and the Marcel Pagnol French International School (577 students, including 132 French students). 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 the same year.

In the field of scientific and technical cooperation, Paraguay has joined the French regional research networks including MATH-AmSud and STIC (ICT)-AmSud. A Pierre and Marie Curie prize has been awarded every year since 2003 to Paraguayan high school students in the scientific field. Cooperation between France and Paraguay in matters relating to healthcare goes back a long way with France playing a historical role in creating the university hospital service in Paraguay. A framework agreement in the field of healthcare was signed between the AP-HP (Paris hospital authority) and the Paraguayan Ministry of Health on 21 October 2016.

Other cooperation

Letters of intent regarding cooperation projects have been signed in the fields of defence and meteorology (2016) and military archaeology (2018).

Updated: 21 October 2019