French President Francois Hollande has visited Vietnam, with much weight put on economic cooperation between the two countries, which elevated their relations to strategic partnership in September 2013 during then Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s France tour.
Rising Trade, Investment Ties
According to data of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France is currently the fifth-largest European trade partner of Vietnam, after Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Italy.
The two-way trade reached $4.2 billion in 2015, representing a 19% year-on-year increase. Vietnam’s exports to that market grew 23% over 2014 to $2.9 billion while France shipped $1.3 billion worth of goods to the Southeast Asian country last year, a 10% rise.
In terms of foreign direct investment (FDI), France ranked second among European countries and 16th among 105 nations and territories investing in Vietnam as of October 2015, with 448 projects having a combined capital of $3.4 billion.
In the first eight months of this year, FDI pledges of French businesses in Vietnam hit $139 million, putting their home country at the 17th position in FDI rankings in Vietnam, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
Over 300 French enterprises, with their operations ranging from food, foodstuff to cutting-edge technologies, have come to Vietnam, President Hollande told reporters in Vietnam, adding he expected to see more joint ventures between the two countries’ companies.
“I hope this visit will help consolidate bilateral economic ties in the way that French companies can increase their presence in Vietnam and businesses boost their market shares in the two countries,” he added.
Landmark Deals Inked
During Hollande’s visit, Airbus
signed deals worth up to $6.5 billion to sell 40 planes to three Vietnamese carriers. Among them, VietJet Air
, the sole privately-run budget airline placed an order for 20 more A321 jets, which are valued at $2.39 billion at current list prices.
The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines signed a letter of intent to buy ten Airbus A350s that could lead to a total value of more than $3 billion. Jetstar Pacific, a joint venture between Vietnam Airlines and Australia’s Qantas Group, agreed to buy ten A320 CEO aircraft worth $1 billion.
In the medicine industry, Sanofi signed an agreement to extend and strengthen its partnership with Vinapharm. Under the accord, Vinapharm will invest in Sanofi Vietnam Shareholding Company, which owns a new $75 million plant.
In the livestock sector, Neovia Vietnam and their partners Grimaud Group and Le Boucher signed a partnership with the Animal Husbandry Association of Vietnam to help set up a value chain which focuses on sustainable pig breeding in the Mekong Delta region
Notably, Hanoi-based FPT
Corporation, the leading software producer in the country, and Telespazio France announced their strategic partnership in the EarthLab program.
FPT and Telespazio France will customize and deliver services for the immediate benefit of the Vietnamese territory. FPT will supply cloud services and analytics for the collected data of the EarthLab Early Services in Vietnam.
More Deals on the Cards
At a France-Vietnam business forum held in Ho Chi Minh City on September 7, participants reached a consensus that there was huge potential for companies of the two countries to expand cooperation, particularly as a free trade agreement between the EU and Vietnam is set to take effect in 2018.
France would help Vietnam wrap up the free trade agreement with EU after which cooperation between the two countries in many sectors like drugs, agriculture and food would become more convenient, said French Minister of State for Commerce, Small-Scale Industry, Consumer Affairs and the Social and Solidarity Economy Martine Pinville.
Nicolas Du Pasquier, president of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vietnam, stressed Vietnam is a dynamic country with striking growths through three decades of renewal and has become an attractive destination of foreign investors, including those from France.
With average growth of over 6% a year, a stable economy and a growing middle class, the country needs to develop sectors like transportation, healthcare, education, and food to have products of better quality, Pasquier was quoted by the Vietnam News Agency as saying.
The country should continue speeding up its reform and restructuring of the economy and the banking and financial systems to tap its development potential, he said, expressing belief that the Vietnam-France future cooperation will thrive across sectors.
Francois Hollande was the third President of France to tour Vietnam. Previously President Francois Mitterrand visited Vietnam in 1993 and President Jacques Chirac made two visits, in 1997 and 2004.
During his stay on September 5-7, the French president held talks with President Tran Dai Quang, and met with Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan and Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Dinh La Thang.