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French Senate President’s Vietnam visit hoped to deepen strategic partnership

French Senate President’s Vietnam visit hoped to deepen strategic partnership The upcoming official visit to Vietnam by President of the French Senate Gérard Larcher is expected to contribute to consolidating and deepening the strategic partnership between the two countries, as well as the friendship and cooperation between the Vietnamese National Assembly and the French Parliament.

The French Senate President’s visit, from December 8-9, will be the first activity of the delegation exchange between the two countries’ legislative leaders after the COVID-19 pandemic was brought under control.

It is also an important event towards the 50th founding anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties and 10 years since the establishment of the strategic partnership in 2023.

The Vietnam-France relationship is developing fruitfully across fields. The two countries have established an array of cooperation mechanisms such as the strategic dialogue on national defence and security between their foreign and defence ministries, the annual high-level economic dialogue and the strategic dialogue on defence at the deputy ministerial level.

In economy, France is Vietnam’s fifth largest trade partner in Europe, after Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Italy, with two-way trade reaching 4.8 billion USD in 2021, a slight decrease from 4.81 billion USD from the previous year. As of the end of June 2022, the bilateral trade revenue had stood at 2.5 billion USD, of which Vietnam’s imports from France was valued at 0.8 billion USD.

As of September 2019, France had ranked third among European investors in Vietnam, after the Netherlands and the UK, and 16th among 114 countries and territories investing in the Southeast Asian nation, with 549 valid projects worth some 5.76 billion USD. Meanwhile, Vietnam has had nine projects in France with total investment of 3.04 million USD.

France is the leading European ODA provider of Vietnam, and the Southeast Asian nation ranks second among Asian recipients of the French assistance.

In education-training, the two sides have rolled out a number of key projects. The French Government grants 80 scholarships to Vietnamese students each year, aiming to help the country with high-quality personnel training.

France is home to the third largest number of Vietnamese students in the world with over 10,000, up about 40% over the past decade.

Marked strides have also been seen in cooperation in culture and tourism. Each year, the French Government earmarks about 5 million EUR (5.25 million USD) from the budget to the cultural collaboration, specifically through the support to cultural centres in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Health care is a traditional cooperation area between the two countries, with nearly 3,000 Vietnamese doctors receiving training at French hospitals as well as the cooperation between the Pasteur Paris and Pasteur Institutes in Vietnam.

During the COVID-19 fight, Vietnam helped French localities with facial masks, while France donated 5.5 million vaccine doses and medical equipment to the country.

A total of 38 French localities have set up partnerships with 18 Vietnamese cities and provinces. Since 1990, as many as 235 decentralised cooperation projects between the two countries’ localities have been implemented, focusing on health care, education, water and hygiene, heritage conservation, rural development and sustainable development.

As members of the Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF), the two countries have carried a range of cooperation activities within the framework of the organisation, especially in French language teaching and higher education.

The bilateral legislative ties have been developing actively and contributing to consolidating and enhancing the cooperation and friendship between the two countries.

The two legislatures have maintained regular high-level delegation exchanges as well as the sharing of experience between their agencies, friendship parliamentarians’ groups and parliamentarians.

At multilateral forums such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership, and particularly the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie, the two sides have closely coordinated in and consulted each other about regional and international issues.

Both nations emphasised importance of multilateralism and of maintaining security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea in accordance with international law.

The Vietnamese NA and the French Senate signed a cooperation agreement in May 2003. The Vietnamese legislature has reached cooperation agreements with both the Senate and the National Assembly of France.

Both the French Senate and NA have established a friendship parliamentarians’ group with Vietnam.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in France in November 2021, Larcher affirmed that France has attached importance to Vietnam’s role and position, and wanted to deepen the traditional friendship and strategic partnership in all areas.

He also noted that the French Senate hoped for stronger ties with the Vietnamese NA./.