France and Benin

Political relations

Relations between France and Benin, a priority country for French official development assistance (ODA) has been strengthened by frequent bilateral visits. Benin’s presidential election in March 2016 confirmed the robustness of its democracy.

Visits

  • The French President received President Patrice Talon on 26 April 2016, a month after his election. Following this meeting, the Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Mr André Vallini, and the Minister of State for Relations with Parliament, Mr Jean-Marie Le Guen, visited Cotonou in May 2016.
  • François Hollande received Patrice Talon on 12 July 2016 to discuss the France-Benin development partnership. A further meeting between the two Presidents took place on 12 December 2016 at the Élysée Palace.
  • On 30 March 2017, Benin’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Aurélien Agbénonci, was received by his French counterpart, Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, in Paris.
  • Patrice Talon met with the French Minister of the Economy and Finance, Mr Michel Sapin, on 18 January 2017, and then again on 15 April that year in Cotonou.
  • The President of the French Republic visited Cotonou on 2 July 2015 at the invitation of his Beninese counterpart. On that occasion, François Hollande commended the country for setting an example in terms of democracy.

Economic relations

French exports to Benin stood at €214 million in 2016 and primarily consist of agrifood products (€82 million) and pharmaceuticals (€57 million).
Our imports from Benin stood that year at €4.38 million and consisted essentially of tropical fruit.

Some 30 French businesses are present in the country.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France is the third-largest bilateral provider of official development assistance to Benin after Germany and the Netherlands. The strategic focuses of cooperation between France and Benin for the period 2014-2016 were set out in the partnership framework document signed on 29 November 2013 in Cotonou. The document, provisionally worth €102 million, focused on three main sectors: democratic governance (€24 million), sustainable development (€51-55 million), and education and vocational training (€9-11 million). As that partnership framework document expired in December 2016, a new bilateral framework is being drawn up.

Through its cooperation initiatives, France also seeks to promote francophonie, to strengthen cultural diversity, and to support artists, actors and cultural organizations in Benin. The Institut Français in Benin plays a leading role in this field, promoting both French culture and the emergence of Beninese artists. France also supports the development of Benin’s tourism, including through the training of staff in the field.

It should also be noted that Benin is a special partner in the field of decentralized cooperation, as 45 partnership agreements have been signed between French and Beninese local governments and over 170 projects have been implemented. Around 30 of the country’s 77 communes are involved. The second meeting on decentralized cooperation took place in Cotonou on 4-5 November 2016.

Other cooperation

France has answered the Beninese government’s request for technical assistance, providing experts in various fields including sustainable development, energy and security.

Updated: 21 April 2017

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