France and Venezuela

  • French Ambassador to Venezuela: Mr Romain Nadal
  • Venezuelan Ambassador to France: Mr Héctor Mujica Ricardo

Political relations

On 19 June 2013, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro made an official visit to Paris, during which the decision was made to launch an “expanded partnership”. On 27 July 2016, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, received his Venezuelan counterpart, Ms Rodriguez, in Paris. During that meeting, the Minister underlined France’s support for the negotiations conducted under the auspices of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and France’s vigilance as to the fate of political opponents imprisoned in Venezuela. On 12 December 2017, the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, received his Venezuelan counterpart, Mr Arreaza, to stress France’s concern as to the worsening situation in Venezuela, to call for the resumption of credible negotiations, and to remind him, otherwise, of the imminence of European sanctions.

Economic relations

Trade between France and Venezuela primarily consists of major contracts, particularly in the sectors of hydrocarbons and urban transport. The profound economic crisis in Venezuela has had a major negative effect on our bilateral trade, the balance of which became negative for France in 2017. After peaking at €777 million in 2012, bilateral trade between the two countries stood at only €130 million in 2017, a drop of 68% on the previous year.

According to the Banque de France, our companies, with Total leading the way, invested an annual average of €460 million between 2005 and 2008, but investment in Venezuela has been negative since the global crisis. Venezuelan investments in France are very modest. Some 40 French companies are established in Venezuela (compared with 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 supported 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 sector-specific cooperation instruments (energy, transport and the social and inclusive economy). Venezuela, however, withdrew from the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in January 2012, raising the question of dispute resolution, particularly in the event of nationalization.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Based on long-standing ties, particularly in culture, the arts, thought and research, French cooperation helps to drive our soft diplomacy. The main focuses of our action, which is largely co-financed, are:

  • strong cooperation in higher education and research: signing on 7 June 2018 of a France-Venezuela academic and scientific cooperation agreement called the “Red Marcel Roche” between five Venezuelan universities and six French higher education establishments (further information); 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;
  • promotion of teaching of the French language (“Le français va aux lycées” – French is going to schools – programme), assistance in publishing French authors’ works and support for the Lycée Français in Caracas (Colegio Francia), which comprises two sections: a French section and a Venezuelan section;
  • a significant cultural programme, implemented with the support of sponsors and a network of Alliances Française branches (8,300 students in 2017 in nine cities: Caracas (four separate centres), Barinas, Barquisimeto, Maracaibo, Maracay, Mérida, Porlamar, Puerto La Cruz and Valencia. These cultural activities develop around key events such as the French Week (in 2018, “Francia-Venezuela compartiendo cultura”, the Francophonie Festival (Fête de la Francophonie), the French Cinema Festival (Festival du cinéma français) and the Music Festival (Fête de la musique). The French Embassy organizes events around haute-couture (the “Pasarela Moda” young designers’ competition), music (“Canta en Francés” competition) and gastronomy (“Good France”, the 2018 edition of which celebrated the children and mothers of canteens in marginalized communities) [the 2018 cultural programme of the Embassy is available here].
  • the promotion of debate, such as during an unprecedented debate between a representative of the government and a member of the opposition on 24 January 2018, organized as part of the “Nuit des Idées” event [watch the debate here].

Updated: 20 June 2018