Thu, 21 Mar 2019

France-Vietnam: a shared history, a common future

French Government
08 Nov 2018, 02:14 GMT+10

7 November 2018 The Prime Minister travelled to Vietnam from 2 to 4 November 2018 to shore up the 45 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as well as the five-year strategic partnership uniting France and Vietnam.

2018 is a particularly significant year for relations between France and Vietnam. The General Secretary of Vietnam's Communist Party visited France last March, and it was now the French Prime Minister's turn to travel to Vietnam to celebrate a double anniversary: marking 45 years of diplomatic relations, and five years since the Franco-Vietnamese strategic partnership was first set up. These state visits are a sign that ties between the two countries are strengthening in an unprecedented manner.

Joined by the ministers Agns Buzyn, Gerald Darmanin and Mounir Mahjoubi, as well as elected officials and business leaders, the Prime Minister addressed three priorities during this visit: driving strategic relations forward, developing the economic and trade partnership and nurturing ties between the two nations.

Relations between France and Vietnam are underpinned by a long-standing common history, and are developing through cooperation across a number of areas: economic, scientific and academic, as well as the defence, health, environment, education and culture sectors. But these ties need to be enhanced further to address the multiple challenges of our time: defence of multilateralism, respect for international law, promotion of open economies and roll-out of inclusive, environmentally-friendly development strategies.

To that end, Edouard Philippe intends to hold talks with the General Secretary of Vietnam's Communist Party, the Prime Minister and the Chair of the National Assembly. Over the past decade, trade between France and Vietnam has increased fourfold: it is now worth more than 6.5bn. Last March, more than 11bn in trade deals between the two countries had been announced.

The Prime Minister's visit is a step forward in the development of our economic and trade relations. Nearly 80 French businesses joined Edouard Philippe in Vietnam, where the latter is due to preside, alongside his Vietnamese counterpart, over a trade agreement signing ceremony in Hanoi. Incidentally, Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a symbol of Franco-Vietnamese relations since French businesses are committed to a number of projects there - including the construction of line 3 of the city metro (half of which is being financed by France, up to 514m).

French businesses also have a significant foothold nationwide, whether in the aeronautics, health, pharmaceutical or urban transport industries. Airbus, for example, holds 85% of market shares in Vietnam. French expertise and technologies are one of the main strengths our businesses boast, along with brand image and quality - not least for consumer products (luxury, cosmetics and agri-food products for example). French firms abroad also help to train the local workforce. Finally, French businesses are also drivers of innovation, and this is why the Prime Minister visited an incubator set up by a French entrepreneur in Ho Chi Minh Ville, to meet the stakeholders of the French Tech Viet network there. Young people hold the solutions to the big challenges of our time: the fight against climate change, the digital revolution and cultural and linguistic diversity. The Prime Minister talked with French and French-speaking Vietnamese youth about these subjects following the inauguration of the new Alexandre-Yersin French lycee (upper secondary school) in Hanoi.

This inauguration also provided an opportunity to address the key issue of the French-speaking world, where Vietnam plays a central role. "Given that French is poised to become the third most commonly spoken language in the world by 2050, Vietnam is the pivotal French-speaking country for the whole of the Asia-Pacific region", Edouard Philippe pointed out. In Vietnam, 623,000 people speak French, 40,000 schoolchildren are learning it and 7,000 Vietnamese youth are studying in France. 80,000 servicemen fighting for France died during the Indochina War between 1946 and 1954. One of the most gruelling, and surely the most symbolic, battles of this war was Din Bin Phu, which marked a decisive step towards Vietnam gaining independence. To pay tribute to the selfless dedication and immense courage of the servicemen on both sides, the Prime Minister visited the French Memorial and Vietnamese Memorial of Din Bin Phu in succession on 3 November. This is the first visit to Din Bin Phu by a French official since President Francois Mitterrand back in 1993.

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