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France and Venezuela

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Venezuela – Tenth anniversary of Maracaibo plane crash (August 24, 2015)

Ten years after the catastrophic plane crash in eastern Venezuela that left 162 dead, including 151 of our compatriots from Martinique, we join those who are paying tribute to the victims of that tragedy.

» Read more ...

French Ambassador to Venezuela: Mr Frederic Desagneaux
Venezuelan Ambassador to France: Mr Héctor Mujica Ricardo

Political relations

France and Venezuela maintain regular political relations. Mr Victorin Lurel, Minister for Overseas France, visited Caracas from 7 to 9 March 2013 to attend the funeral of President Hugo Chávez. Ms Conway-Mouret, Minister Delegate for French Nationals Abroad, represented France at the inauguration ceremony of President Nicolás Maduro on 20 April 2013. The Third Meeting of the Venezuela-France High-Level Bilateral Commission took place in Caracas on 24 November 2012. It was chaired by Mr Benoît Hamon, French Minister Delegate for the Social, Mutually Supportive Economy and Consumption, and by Mr Nicolás Maduro, the then First Vice-President of the Republic and Foreign Minister. Several agreements were signed on that occasion. Nicolás Maduro visited France and met the Head of State in Paris on 19 June 2013. The meeting helped define a bilateral agenda (economic projects and cooperation) and highlight positive prospects for economic exchanges.

Economic relations

The relationship with Venezuela is mainly concentrated on large contracts (oil, urban transport in particular). The country attracts large numbers of investments, especially in the fields of oil, gas, transport, chemistry and pharmacy. In the light of the total FDI stock recorded in Venezuela (US$45 million) and the annual breakdowns of capital inflows carried out by the Central Bank of Venezuela, France, with average annual flows of $558 million and around $5 billion in stock, ranks as the third-largest investor in the country.

According to the Bank of France, our businesses, with Total in the lead, invested an average of €460 million per year between 2005 and 2008. Yet since the start of the international crisis, the movements of their assets to Venezuela have been negative, explaining the major decline in French stock which fell from €1.4 billion in 2010 to €850 million in 2011. On the other hand, Venezuelan investment in France is very limited (annual flow below €1 million).

To date, some 60 French companies are established in Venezuela (against about 100 in 2008), in the form of subsidiaries, branches or representative offices in many areas of activity. Alongside the large dominant groups (Total, Alstom, Air France, L’Oréal, Sanofi-Aventis, Pernod Ricard, Lactalis, etc.) there are a number of independent entrepreneurs and SMEs.

Our partnership is backed up by an agreement on reciprocal promotion and protection of investments (API) which came into force in April 2004 and is valid until 2019, and by sectoral cooperation instruments (energy, transport, social and solidarity economy). Venezuela, however, withdrew from the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in January 2012, over the issue of dispute resolution, particularly in the event of nationalization.

French exports to Venezuela amounted to €410 million in 2014, while imports amounted to €113 million (mainly energy products). The coverage of French imports was 363% in 2014 (163% in 2012). Contrary to our investments, our market share remains low (1.2%; 14th-largest supplier).

Business France is active in Venezuela through a public service delegation (DSP) introduced at the beginning of 2012 for the French-Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIAVF), which is at the disposal of French companies to assist them in their prospective action, in close cooperation with the French embassy’s Economic Service. The same applies to the dynamic Section of the Foreign Trade Advisers of France, representing different sectors of French supply.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Based on long-standing ties, relating in particular to culture, the arts, thinking, and research, French cooperation is driven by a dynamic of influence. The main focuses of our action, which is largely cofinanced, are:

– strong cooperation in higher education and research: PCP/RU21 and ECOS Nord scientific programmes; Masters 2 and Doctoral scholarship programme with the Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho Foundation (Fundayacucho) under the supervision of the Venezuelan Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation; signing of a scientific cooperation agreement between the French Research Institute for Development (IRD) and Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC) in November 2012; opening of the Renault Venezuela Training Centre for Automotive Mechatronics in November 2012; cooperation projects in the field of new technologies (telecommunications, satellite imagery, etc.);

– promotion of the French language, assistance in publishing French authors’ works and support for the French Lycée in Caracas (Colegio Francia), which comprises two sections: a French section (of about 800 students) and a Venezuelan section (of about 500 students);

– a significant cultural programme, implemented with the support of sponsors and a growing network of Alliances Françaises (7310 students in 2012) in ten cities: Caracas (four separate centres), Maracaibo, Valencia, Barquisimeto, Mérida, Porlamar, Puerto La Cruz, Barinas, Maracay and Cumaná since June 2013);

This cultural action is developing around highlights such as the Fête de la Francophonie (Francophonie Festival), the French Film Festival and the Music Festival, and by inviting French artists to take part in cultural events organized by the Venezuelan Ministry of Culture. It also focuses on major projects (Cine Concierto Casanova in 2011: cine-concert screening of the 1927 silent film "Casanova" accompanied by music by Georges Delarue and the opera Bolivar by Milhaud Darius performed at the Teresa Carreño Theatre, Caracas, in March 2012, which are conducted in close partnership with the youth orchestras system Sistema founded by the maestro José Antonio Abreu in 1975), and the big photo exhibition Raymond Depardon’s France at the Museum of Fine Arts in Caracas in 2013).

– the development of cooperation projects in architecture and urban planning through support for Venezuela’s future Museum of Architecture (development of a partnership with the French Institute of Architecture) and for the rehabilitation of the pedestrian Sabanas Grande Boulevard;

– fostering the sharing of ideas by inviting French speakers to take part in various symposiums and seminars, especially at universities, such as the Latin America and Caribbean Week organized by the Simón Bolívar University (USB).

Updated: 08/10/2015

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