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Huge opportunities for expanded Vietnam-France relations: experts

Vietnam and France see new opportunities to further strengthen their relationship, which witnessed strong development over the last 45 years, heard a conference held by the Asia Centre in Paris on April 9.

The event offered a venue for historians, foreign relations experts and those who made significant contributions to the bilateral ties to review cooperation achievements between Vietnam and France, and discuss measures to foster the relations in the coming time.

According to Duong Van Quang, former Vietnamese Ambassador to France, the geopolitical factor has a great impact on bilateral relations.

He stressed that the recent official visit to France by General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong was a history trip that opens up new opportunities for the bilateral relations.

Vietnamese Ambassador to France Nguyen Thiep said France was among the first western countries to set up relations with Vietnam, and forgive debts for the war-torn country.

Promoting relations with France has been one of the priorities in Vietnam's foreign policy for many years, he emphasised, noting that France is not only the leading bilateral donor in Europe for Vietnam but also a partner of Vietnam in many fields.

Parliamentarian Stepphanie Do, Chairwoman of the France-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentarians’ Group, appreciated CPV General Secretary Trong’s visit, which witnessed the signing of many economic agreements between the two sides.

Vietnam has gradually asserted its role in the international arena thanks to its dynamic economic development in recent years, she said.

She noted that the signing of the Strategic Partnership agreement between the two countries five years ago showed the upgraded political trust and deepened their cooperation in five key fields of politics-diplomacy, defence-security, economy-trade-investment, development partnership, and culture-education-training-scientific research-justice.

Along with cooperation between Party and Government agencies, connection among legislative bodies and localities of France and Vietnam have also recorded fruitful development, while their coordination in regional and international issues has ceaselessly bolstered, she affirmed.

However, participants said the economic ties between the two countries are ye to match their good political relations. France is the fifth largest trade partner of Vietnam in Europe, and ranks 16th among investors in Vietnam.

Claude Blanchemaison, Governor for France at the Asia-Europe Foundation, stressed the necessity to ratify and enforce the Vietnam-European Union Free Trade Agreement next year.

French enterprises need to try harder to make inroads into the Vietnamese market, a huge potential market with nearly 100 million people, he stressed.

Strengthening the bilateral ties is an objective and necessary requirement for the benefits of both countries, especially in the context of the increasing role of France in Europe and the world, whilst Vietnam is a dynamically developing economy in Southeast Asia, participants said.