Canada and Paraguay established diplomatic relations in 1961. The Embassy of Canada in Buenos Aires is accredited to Paraguay, and Canada maintains an Honorary Consulate in Asunción, as well as a Visa Application Centre which opened in September 2011 to facilitate visa applications for residents in Paraguay.
Paraguay is represented in Canada by an Embassy in Ottawa and has appointed Honorary Consulates in Calgary, Montréal, Vancouver and Winnipeg. While Canadians travelling to Paraguay still require a visa to enter the country, procedures were simplified in November 2012 to allow Canadians to purchase a visa upon arrival at Silvio Pettirossi International Airport, the country’s main point of entry.
Canada works with partners across the Americas to achieve the goal of a more prosperous, secure and democratic hemisphere. Canada’s Strategy for Engagement in the Americas seeks to advance three goals: increasing mutual economic opportunity; strengthening security and institutions; and fostering lasting relationships. For more information on Canada’s engagement in the Americas, please visit The Americas: Our Neighbours, Our Priority and Panorama.
Bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Paraguay totalled approximately $36 million in 2014 (up from $31 million in 2013), including $22.3 million in Canadian exports and $14 million in imports from Paraguay. These figures reflect a modest involvement of Canadian companies in such sectors as mining, infrastructure, energy and clean technologies. With encouraging prospects for increased opportunities in infrastructure, energy, and transportation sectors, as well as policies encouraging increased foreign investment, Paraguay has been identified as an emerging priority market under the Canadian Government’s Global Market Action Plan announced in 2013. For more information, please visit the webpage of the Trade Commissioner Service.
Paraguay is an associate member of Canada’s Military Training Cooperation Program, through which Canada makes military training available to partner countries, thus enhancing defence relations between our nations.
Canada and Paraguay enjoy close bilateral relations in areas of common interest, such as human rights and effective multilateralism within the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS). Both countries have been engaged in reconstruction and peacekeeping efforts in Haiti with Paraguay contributing troops to the MINUSTAH mission, as well as a technical engineering unit.
The active bilateral relationship between Canada and Paraguay has been highlighted by the August 2013 visit of former Foreign Minister John Baird to Paraguay, and his return in June 2014, where he headed Canada’s delegation to the OAS General Assembly in Asunción. Other high-level visits to Paraguay in recent years include those of former Parliamentary Secretary of Foreign Affairs Bob Dechert (August 2013), Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast (June 2011), then-Public Safety Minister Vic Toews (May 2011), and then-Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) Peter Kent (May 2010). High-level Paraguayan visitors to Canada have included then-Vice-President, and former President Federico Franco (October 2010), previous Minister of Foreign Affairs Héctor Lacognata (September 2010) and previous Secretary of the Environment, Oscar Rivas (September 2010).
An important people-to-people link between Canada and Paraguay is the community of approximately 15,200 Paraguayan Mennonites of Canadian origin, 9,000 of whom maintain Canadian citizenship. In fact, the majority of Canadian visitors to Paraguay have some connection to the Mennonite community.
Development assistance for Paraguay is provided through multilateral programs and through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), which is managed by the Embassy of Canada to Argentina and Paraguay. In the past two years, Canada has provided support to a total of nineteen projects in Paraguay, amounting to over CAD $350,000 in funding.
Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is also active in Paraguay. Projects supported by the IDRC include a study into the impact on rural development and prosperity of the “One Laptop per Child” program and an initiative to help inform and advocate pre-election debate leading up to the April 2013 election. The IDRC also manages the Think Tank Initiative, a multi-donor effort which provides long-term funding and technical support to 28 think tanks in Latin America and South Asia, allowing them to strengthen their roles as influential players in national policymaking. Among the 28 are two Paraguayan institutions, El Centro de Análisis y Difusión de la Economía Paraguaya (CADEP) and the Instituto Desarrollo (ID). In July 2014, both organizations were among those selected for continued support through phase two of the initiative, providing them with continued funding through 2019.
The Centro Paraguayo de Estudios Canadienses (CPEC), created in 2005, continues to develop an extensive program which includes a special ongoing feature, Education to Strengthen Democracy. CPEC sustains links with universities, NGOs and government agencies and has facilitated the visits to Paraguay of Canadian and regional experts to discuss Canadian priorities, promote educational exchanges and fellowships and organize Canada-branding events. One of CPEC’s main goals is to further the concept of open governance based on Canada’s experiences.
The Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP), announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the Summit of the Americas in 2009, provides short term scholarship opportunities for students from Latin America and the Caribbean, including Paraguay, to study or conduct research in Canada. The program is predicated on Canadian and Paraguayan institutional linkages which facilitate the creation of scholarship opportunities. These academic agreements help foster research collaborations and student exchanges.
In addition to the ELAP scholarships, Paraguayan students are also encouraged to apply for other Canadian awards open to all international students including the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships worth up to $50,000 annually for a three year Ph.D. and the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships worth up to $70,000 a year for up to two years.
In 2014, Canada continues to host a series of events under the mark of “Canadá Conexiones”. The series takes place throughout the year on a variety of themes, and is the builds on the successful “Canada Connections Week” that was held in Asunción in March 2011 on the occasion of Paraguay’s bicentennial and the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations.
In 2015, Canada will play host to both the Pan Am and Parapan American Games. This will be the third time that Canada will hold the Pan Am Games, and together with the Parapan American Games, will be the largest international multi-sport event ever hosted in the country. Canada looks forward to welcoming athletes, artists and visitors from Paraguay at the Games in Toronto in 2015.