Benin

Latest news

France and Benin

Political relations

Relations between France and Benin, a priority country for French official development assistance (ODA), have been strengthened by frequent bilateral visits.

Visits

The French President received President Talon at the Élysée Palace on 6 March 2018. Minister of State Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne visited Cotonou between 14 and 16 February 2018. Minister of Sport Laura Flessel visited Benin from 26 to 29 July 2018.

President François Hollande received President Talon three times in 2016 (April, July and December) and visited Cotonou on 2 July 2015 at the invitation of his Beninese colleague.

Ministerial visits also take place regularly. The Ministers of State André Vallini and Jean-Marie Le Guen visited Cotonou in May 2016, while Benin’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aurélien Agbénonci, was received by his counterpart in Paris in March 2017.

Economic relations

Trade between France and Benin is characterized by limited French imports (€2.4 million in 2018), made up essentially of a few agricultural and agrifood products. France therefore has a trade surplus of €220.2 million. French exports totalled €222.7 million in 2018. Our traditional exports are pharmaceuticals and poultry.

Some 40 French businesses are present in the country. They are concentrated in the agrifood, logistics, construction and banking sectors and directly employ between 4,000 and 4,500 people.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France is the second-largest bilateral provider of official development assistance to Benin after the United States. The strategic focuses of cooperation between France and Benin for the period 2018-2021 are set out in the general partnership framework signed in Paris on 9 March 2018. They are in line with the Beninese government’s programme of action: supporting economic development and job creation; contributing to improving living conditions; and consolidating democratic governance.

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 key decentralized cooperation partner: 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 municipalities are involved. The second meeting on decentralized cooperation took place in Cotonou on 4 and 5 November 2016.

Benin was the first country to make an official request for the return of cultural heritage, which President Macron decided to accept. The submission of the Savoy-Sarr report and the President’s commitment to return 26 works to Benin have opened up enhanced heritage cooperation and the drafting of a road map for the return of these works.

Updated: November 2019