The authorities in Sao Tome and Principe are proud Francophiles and hope to develop closer ties with France. French is taught as a compulsory foreign language for all secondary school pupils, and has a special status. Sao Tome and Principe acceded to the International Organisation of La Francophonie in 1999, in line with its ambition to achieve greater openness to its Francophone regional environment.
The signing of a bilateral convention on 16 November 2006 implementing a Paris Club agreement (rescheduling of AFD debt worth about €3 million) was a positive step in bilateral relations.
France’s exports are modest, totalling €706,000 in 2015, a year-on-year slide of 13.6%. Products from the food industries represent 42% of sales. French imports, meanwhile, are rising, and stood at €2.3 million in 2015, up 24% compared to 2014. Cacao and coffee make up the most part of French purchases.
French bilateral aid
French assistance began in 1976, and involved around $2 billion annually between 2009 and 2013, with a focus on three priority areas: supporting Francophonie and cultural diversity, promoting human resources and production capacities, building State management capacities, and structuring civil society. In 2014, French official development assistance (ODA) to Sao Tome and Principe represented $1.5 million, with a main focus on agriculture, education and Francophonie.