New development in Vietnam – France strategic partnership

Update: 13:02 | 24/03/2018
The upcoming visit to be made by General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong to France from March 25-27, at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, will be an important opportunity to intensify the Vietnam - France strategic partnership in a deeper and more comprehensive fashion for the two countries’ interests.
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The statement was made by Vietnamese Ambassador to France Nguyen Thiep in an interview with Vietnamese reporters in France.

The upcoming official visit to France made by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong has a great significance in celebration of the 45th anniversary of Vietnam – France diplomatic ties. Could you tell us about the main message that the two countries wish to convey through the visit?

Ambassador Nguyen Thiep: The two countries first established the diplomatic ties on April 12, 1973. Over nearly half a century, their friendship and cooperation have developed well in a comprehensive and deep manner in many fields, especially in culture, education and decentralised cooperation. Based on that, in 2013, the two sides decided to establish a strategic partnership. France has become a leading important partner of Vietnam in Europe. Vietnam is also an indispensable strategic partner of France in Asia with its role and contributions to the peace, stability and development in the region and the world.

Vietnam’s participation in the ASEAN Economic Community and many free trade agreements, including The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade deal and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which is expected to be signed soon, will open new opportunities for Vietnam and France.

new development in vietnam france strategic partnership
Vietnamese Ambassador to France Nguyen Thiep. (Photo: NDO)

In the context of turmoil in Europe, France’s determination for change and reform and the improvement of Vietnam’s role in the region and the world, particularly Vietnam’s integration into the world trade, General Secretary Trong’s visit will be an important chance to bring the strategic cooperation between the two countries to a deeper and more comprehensive stage for the common interest of both sides.

During the visit, the two sides will sign a series of important cooperative documents in the fields of defence, justice, space technology, intellectual property, climate change adaptation, tourism and education, along with major and long-term economic contracts. The two senior leaders will discuss strategic directions and new cooperative frameworks and mechanisms to further develop the strategic partnership between the two countries, which is the message of the Vietnamese Party General Secretary’s visit.

The EVFTA will be signed and passed soon. Could you talk about the prospects for trade relations?

When the EVFTA is signed, passed and takes effect, the trade links between Vietnam and EU will surely see new changes both in terms of quality and quantity. In this context, I believe that the Vietnam - France bilateral trade relations will also witness strong growth, providing more benefits for enterprises in the near future.

As the EVFTA comes into force, most commodities will be entitled to enjoy lower import tariffs and access to each other’s markets will be more favourable. Especially, due to the structure of imported and exported commodities in Vietnam and France, the EVFTA will create a chance for complementarity, allowing enterprises from the two countries to promote their competitiveness in agricultural products and food. In this context, the combination of France’s advantages of advanced technology and capital with abundant natural resources, an open economic policy, stable politics, and creative, skillful and low cost labour resources, as well as the prospect of dynamic development of Vietnam, will undoubtedly be a driving force for the development of the business cooperation, contributing to economic growth and the improvement of competitiveness as well as creating more jobs in both countries.

With the EVFTA, French businesses will have many chances to enter and boost their exports to Vietnam, particularly agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, fashion items, high-end furniture, hi-tech machinery, transport vehicles and chemicals.

Furthermore, France will help Vietnam to join its production chains as well as access and improve the advanced technologies from the industrial revolution 4.0. In addition, the two sides’ enterprises can jointly invest in and create joint ventures and links in producing goods for exports to not only ASEAN countries but also the EU and other countries around the world.

Culture and education – training are among the priority fields for cooperation highlighted in a joint declaration on establishing the Vietnam - France strategic partnership (2013). Can you please tell us about the achievements gained and plans to enhance the cooperation in these areas between the two countries?

As I have stressed, Vietnam and France have exchanged and shared experience with each other in culture for a long time, creating a close relationship between the two peoples. The cultural exchanges between the two countries have been increasingly developed. France allocates around EUR5 million for cultural cooperation with Vietnam each year, particularly in support of the activities of French culture centres in Hanoi (L’Espace), Ho Chi Minh City (Institute of Cultural Exchange with France – IDECAF), Thua Thien – Hue and Da Nang. An agreement on cultural centres signed by the two Governments in November 2009 has created favourable conditions for Vietnamese Cultural Centre in France. France is the only European country in which Vietnam has formed a cultural centre. In addiiton, it should be recalled that with the sponsorship and active participation of France, Festival Hue has become an international cultural event which takes place biennially.

France ranks seventh among the countries and territories with the most tourism investment in Vietnam, with 14 projects worth a total of US$188 million. Vietnam identifies France as a key market for visitors. The country welcomed 255,369 French visitors in 2017, an annual increase of 6% compared to 2016. Also last year, over 50,000 Vietnamese tourists visited France (according to the number of visas issued to Vietnamese citizens to France).

The two countries have coordinated successfully to organise the France Year in Vietnam (2013) and Vietnam Year in France (2014) to celebrate 40th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations. In the near future, the two sides will work together to promote the current cooperative activities and establish new frameworks for cultural cooperation. In the immediate future, the two countries will focus on implementing a series of events in celebration of the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic ties and five years of the strategic partnership, as well as coordinating with each other to organise the 2018 Festival Hue from April 27 to May 2. The Vietnamese Cultural Centre in France will sent folk art troupes to perform in France, as well as holding Vietnamese Week and Vietnamese Film Week in France and others, such as fairs and the provision of tourism publications. Moreover, the centre will accelerate the teaching of Vietnamese and traditional martial arts as well as the introduction of Vietnamese cuisine to children of Overseas Vietnamese in France and young French people. The Vietnamese Embassy in France has always supported the initiatives of promoting Vietnamese culture in France, including the project to build a Vietnam House launched by Vietnam’s Tourism Ambassador to France Anoa Suzanne Dussol Perran.

The cooperation in education and training between Vietnam and France has been formed and developed since the early 1980s. France always considers education and training as a priority in its cooperation with Vietnam, focusing on the teaching of French and human resources training at the university and post-graduate levels in many fields, including economic management, banking, finance, laws and new technology.

The two sides have implemented several major projects in training, such as a training programme for high-quality engineers in Vietnam (PFIEV), the French-Vietnam Management Centre (CFVG), the establishment of two French Univeristy Poles (PUF) at the Vietnam National University - Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City, and the Francophone Institute for Informatics (IFI). In October 2010, the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, which received a EUR100 million fund from France, opened its first course. It is one of four universities in Vietnam that meets international standards.

Every year the French Government grants many scholarships for Vietnamese students to study in France, mostly for training programmes at master and doctoral levels. The number of Vietnamese students studying in France has increased by around 40% over the past ten years, reaching around 7,000 at present.

In the future, the two countries will continue to strengthen the cooperation in education and training. It is expected that the two sides will re-sign the agreement on the Hanoi Science and Technology University after the first term of the Agreement ends in 2019 and discuss the upgrade of the CFVG to become a European management university. The cooperation in teaching French and using French in teaching will also be promoted.

The training cooperation in the fields of justice, law and health between Vietnam and France has also been formed since the 1990s and continues to see new development.

How have Overseas Vietnamese in France contributed to the development of the relationship between the two countries as well as promoting the image of the land and people of Vietnam in France?

In the beginning of the 20th century, organisations gathering Vietnamese people in France began to appear, including the ‘Association of Patriotic Annamite’, which have made great contributions to the formation of progressive thoughts and trends, the precursors of the revolutionary movement in Vietnam. During the resistance wars against France and the US in Vietnam, the Overseas Vietnamese community in France organised numerous meetings, protests and donations, as well as calling for French people and others around the world to oppose the unjust wars in Vietnam. They also helped Vietnamese delegations during the negotiations for the Paris Agreement, ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam.

During the process of national reconstruction and development, the Overseas Vietnamese in France continued to organise donation programmes to support the disadvantaged in Vietnam, present scholarships to students, participate in accelerating science and technique development projects, provide equipment, enhance investment and contribute overseas remittances.

The Vietnamese community in France now has around 300,000 people who have always been appreciated for their successful integration into the host country. Many associations have united and supported together, contributing to fostering and developing the solidarity and friendship between the two countries. More and more Vietnamese people have taken on important positions within France's economic, political and technical apparatus, which affirms the increasing position and prestige of Overseas Vietnamese in the social life in France.

The Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit to France will be an occasion to reaffirm that the Vietnamese Party and State always pay great attention to the Overseas Vietnamese in France - an integral part of the nation. The General Secretary will listen to their thoughts and aspirations as well as suggestions and contributions for the Party and State. He will also inform them of the country’s situation, expressing his wish that the expatriates will continue to contribute to the Vietnam – France cooperation and friendship.

Thank you very much!

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(Source: NDO)