France and Vietnam have long-standing ties. France was one of the first Western countries to support Vietnam’s policy of renewal and has been supporting its outreach for over 20 years. Bilateral relations are driven by close and regular dialogue. On 25 September 2013, France and Vietnam signed a declaration on strategic partnership aimed at strengthening the relationship in all areas (political, defence, economy, education, culture).
Political relations involve regular very high level meetings: four French Presidential visits to Vietnam (1993, 1997, 2004, 2016) and the visit of Prime Minister François Fillon in November 2009; visits to France of the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 2002, the Secretary-General of the Party in 2005, and Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng in 2007, 2013 and 2015 (launch of COP21). Each year, several mutual ministerial visits are organised.
Mutual visits by parliamentary friendship groups also take place periodically. Similarly, French-Vietnamese relations thrive on the relations between local governments, which convene regularly at the French-Vietnamese Decentralized Cooperation Meeting (the 10ᵗʰ meeting was held in mid-September 2016 Cần Thơ in southern Vietnam in 2016).
Vietnam is a member of the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF): the OIF regional office for Asia and the Pacific is located in Hanoi, which also hosted the 1997 Francophonie Summit.
See the website of the French Embassy in Vietnam (in French)
France’s commitment to development assistance remains strong: historically, France has been Vietnam’s second-largest bilateral donor after Japan, with €1.7 billion in total commitments since 1993. There is strong financial cooperation, Vietnam being France’s third-largest recipient of French financing, with over €350 million in projects financed by the RPE (Emerging Countries Reserve) since 2006.
France was also until recently the largest Western investor in Vietnam, both in terms of flows and stocks. It is now the 3ʳᵈ largest European investor and 16ᵗʰ largest global investor in terms of investment licences stock, with US$3 billion. Almost two thirds of French investments are made in the services sector, one fifth in industry (water, gas and electricity), 7% in agriculture and 5% in retailing.
Our economic relations are nevertheless unbalanced and far from achieving their potential. Although our exports to Vietnam have seen a slight increase (€1.5 billion in 2014), our trade deficit continues to grow (€3 billion in 2016 compared to €2.7 billion in 2015) due to the scale of our imports from Vietnam (€4.5 billion in 2016), including textiles and footwear, sports equipment and mobile phones. Our exports to Vietnam are made up of aeronautical sales, pharmaceuticals and agri-food products.
France’s market share in the country is around 0.8%.
Almost 300 French businesses are set up in Vietnam in the form of companies, representative offices and joint ventures (representing about 26,000 jobs).
Further analyses and statistics at: http://www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/pays/vietnam (in French)
The education sector is an important part of the relationship. The Vietnamese make up the second-largest Asian student community in France (over 7,000 students), which is the third most popular host country among Vietnamese students. France and Vietnam have developed many academic and scientific cooperation projects, the best examples of which are the Hanoi University of Science and Technology (HUST), created in 2009 via an intergovernmental agreement, and the French Vietnamese Center of Management (CFVG), which aims to become a leading business school in South-East Asia.
Building on the 40ᵗʰ anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the “France-Vietnam Year” in 2013-2014. This cross-collaboration year was an opportunity to showcase our trade with Vietnam in a very wide range of areas (culture, education, economic cooperation, tourism, etc.).
For further information, visit:
- Website of the French Embassy in Hanoi (in French)
- Website of the Institut français in Hanoi
- France-Vietnam Year 2013 website and its Facebook page
Updated: 1 March 2017