As France celebrates its National Day on July 14, Viet Nam News presents an article written by French Ambassador to Viet Nam Jean-François Girault.
|National pride: The view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the symbol of France. — Photo Michael Menot
On the occasion of French National Day – the 14th of July – it is my pleasure to
underscore the strength and great diversity of the relations between France and Viet Nam and focus on some of our future prospects. Our two countries have a long intersecting history and our bonds are characterised by frequent political, economic, cultural and scientific exchanges.
The diverse and long-standing initiatives taken by France in the field of
co-operation and cultural affairs in Viet Nam are changing to reflect the robust, positive development Viet Nam is experiencing. The key thrust of our action now is to support academic training for Viet Nam's youth, making it easier for Vietnamese students wanting to study in France. ‘CampusFrance' is enabling France to host over a thousand Vietnamese students every year.
Let me also highlight the extensive French education roster available in Viet Nam, with some 800 students enrolled in 12 specialised university degree courses, not to mention the training programme for Viet Nam's engineers of excellence. And each year, medical professors lecture in faculties of medicine in places such as Ha Noi, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City and Hai Phong.
Another flagship France-Viet Nam co-operation project is the University of Science and Technology of Ha Noi (USTH), linking world-class instruction in science with research.
It aims to provide Viet Nam with the means and human resources necessary for its development. France is going all out for the success of this venture.
These multi-form endeavours in training are furthermore helping to maintain a Francophone presence in Viet Nam, a member of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.
A few words regarding our cultural promotion. In addition to artistic co-operation
arrangements designed to eventuate in common productions, the Institut français du Vietnam is endeavouring to present to the Vietnamese public a cultural programme in keeping with the diversity of our world. This brought a Senegalese artist to the Hue International Festival in April 2012. Obviously, Vietnamese culture is central to our programming. The Ca Tru Concert held in June 2012 at "L'Espace" (French cultural centre in Ha Noi) was a resounding success. Given the public's interest and the growing number of young Vietnamese performers, I am certain that Viet Nam will fully share in this promotion of cultural diversity and enjoy stardom on the international artistic stage.
Trade and economic exchanges are the second major pillar in France-Viet Nam
relations. Nearly 300 French companies are operating in Viet Nam, making France one of its top investors. France's FDI topped US$3 billion in 2011, placing it second among European investors and in 15th spot in Viet Nam. It is the leading European donor for official development assistance (ODA).
Trade between France and Viet Nam amounted to 2.7 billion euros in 2011, an increase of 26 per cent over 2010.
But our bilateral trade figures and the French presence in Viet Nam are not as good as both sides would like. French businesses have the potential of deploying their expertise and ability to harness funding and build partnerships with Vietnamese firms in such fields as aeronautics and space, energy, defence, environment and urban infrastructure development, as well as the ever expanding tourism sector. France hopes that a free trade agreement with the European Union will open the way for more trade and boost sectors wherein partnerships are possible.
Viet Nam has now become a middle-income country, but to strengthen its competitiveness and reach industrialised status, it needs to push its infrastructure development. Such projects are now financed primarily through ODA of which France is a major contributor, but public-private partnerships need to be encouraged.
Viet Nam's fast-track growth in recent years is putting sustainable development to the fore. French business experience and technology could help promote balanced development.
A transparent, fair and predictable business environment is crucial to enhance investment and trade growth between our countries. Special attention must also be given to safeguarding intellectual property rights. The future of the country and consumer protection consumer demand upgraded security for innovation coupled with counterfeiting control.
In conclusion, let me stress that 2013 is a significant year in the history of our two countries, marking 40 years of diplomatic relations. To fete this event, the French and Vietnamese governments have a "France-Viet Nam Year" on the drawing board to showcase all aspects of our political, economic and cultural partnership.
Events are being jointly planned for late 2013 and early 2014 in Viet Nam and in
France to advance our mutual friendship and understanding.
On the economics front, for example, noteworthy meetings will be held. UBIFRANCE will host a business forum in early April in Ho Chi Minh City and a succession of French corporate missions and trade shows will take place throughout the year in Viet Nam. The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Viet Nam plans to put on a regional farm festival in Ho Chi Minh City in December 2013.
High-level policy exchanges and bilateral visits will also draw attention to this France-Viet Nam Year, focusing on the strategic partnership wished by the governments of both countries. — VNS