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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 academic and professional mobility, poverty reduction, democratic and economic governance and cooperation in the field of health.

French presence

Consular services: Consulate-General of France in Buenos Aires (the Embassy in Asunción is a diplomatic presence post with limited staff).

French community: 1,300 (2017).
(Paraguayan community in France: 500)

Visits

With the exception of General de Gaulle’s visit during his tour of 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 French President 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:

  • 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 President of the French Senate.
  • 5-6 March 2015: visit to France by Mr Eladio Loizaga, Paraguayan Minister of External Relations, and meeting with Mr Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
  • May 2015: visit to Asunción by two French Senators (and by the expatriates’ National Assembly Deputy for the region).
  • 30 November 2015: speech by President Cartes, the first Head of State to speak during the opening ceremony of COP21.
  • 9-10 March 2016: visit to France by Mr Eladio Loizaga, Paraguayan Minister of External Relations, and meeting with Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
  • April 2016: visit to Paraguay by the Senator for French nationals abroad Mr Olivier Cadic, to attend the Second Investment Forum Paraguay-Europe. 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 participate in an international economic forum organized by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance, the OECD and the IDB, and 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, Minister of External Relations.
  • 20-24 November 2017: working visit to France by Mr 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, leading a business delegation; meeting with Minister of State Mr Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne.

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

Ambassadors

French Ambassador in Asunción: Ms Sophie Aubert (since October 2017)
Twitter account

Paraguayan Ambassador in Paris: Emilio Giménez Franco (since July 2012)

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, more than doubling since 2010. In 2018, French exports reached €62 million and imports €30 million. They are largely dominated by chemicals and pharmaceuticals, 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). The Accor hotel chain signed a franchise agreement to build an Ibis hotel which opened in September 2010, while a second hotel has opened in Ciudad del Este. Cereals, in particular soybean, and oilseeds, are the top Paraguayan exports to France, followed by spices, essential oils, sugar, yarns, and meat. The presence of French brands is not always represented 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

Educational and linguistic cooperation with Paraguay is being developed through the national BECAL grants programme, which aims to offer 1,500 scholarships to the best Paraguayan students to study in one of the world’s top 350 universities. In 2019, a convention was signed with Campus France 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 fifth-most popular destination abroad for students from Paraguay.

Cooperation relies locally on the dynamism of the Alliance Française centre in Asunción (more than 1,600 students) and the Marcel Pagnol French International School (577 pupils, 132 of whom French). Both institutions have undergone significant modernization in recent years. The Molière Room at the Alliance Française, which was the only place of open 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 bring the number of students to 700.

Our cultural cooperation, despite having a limited 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 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. France organizes now-regular events including the Francophonie Festival and the global Music Festival (Fête de la Musique).

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. The Paraguayan Ministry of Health and the Paris Hospitals trust’s private subsidiary, AP-HP International, signed a memorandum of understanding in late 2019 on a feasibility study funded under the Private Sector Aid Fund (FASEP), with a view to renovating the National Hospital of Itauguá, the country’s largest hospital, which was built by French companies.

Other cooperation

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

Updated: January 2020