French president to touch down in Vietnam

By Viet Anh   September 4, 2016 | 04:01 am PT
French president to touch down in Vietnam
French President Francois Hollande attends the G20 Summit, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, September 4, 2016. Photo by Reuters
Millions of dollars could flow in on the back of more than 20 cooperation agreements.

In what will be the first visit by a French president in 12 years, Francois Hollande is calling on Vietnam from September 5-7 to bolster bilateral ties in a wide range of sectors.

During the visit, the two sides are expected to materialize their strategic partnership signed in 2013 to strengthen cooperation in politics and foreign relations, security and defense, trade and investment, science and technology, and education and training.

Apart from official meetings with Vietnamese leaders, Hollande is scheduled to deliver a speech at the Vietnam National University in Hanoi and visit Ho Chi Minh City, where he will meet with the city’s leaders and the business community. He is also expected to visit the Heart Institute in Ho Chi Minh City, one of the beacons of cooperation between the two nations.

The two sides are expected to sign more than 20 cooperation agreements during the visit. One of the deals will be a service contract between Airparif, an organization responsible for monitoring the air quality in the IIe de France, and Hanoi's municipal government. The purpose of the contract is to help improve air quality in Hanoi by setting up a monitoring system.

Another agreement will involve the French Development Agency (AFD), which is expected to provide a 52.5 million euros loan package and 1 million euros of non-refundable aid to help Vietnam’s central province of Ha Tinh, the northern province of Ninh Binh and the southern city of Can Tho fight rising sea water.

The AFD is also expected to contribute another 100 million euros this year and 50 million euros from 2017-2018 to help Vietnam deal with climate change.

In June this year, Vietnam and France agreed to establish a strategic partnership in defense.

France is Vietnam’s fifth largest trade partner in Europe, behind Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands and Italy, with two-way trade reaching $4.2 billion in 2015, up 19 percent year-on-year. The figure stood at $919 million in the first quarter of this year.

Vietnam mainly exports footwear, garments and textiles, household utensils, seafood, machinery and electronic components to France while importing aviation equipment, pharmaceuticals, mechanical and electronic products, chemicals and alcoholic beverages from the country.

With 461 projects worth over $3.4 billion, France is now the third largest European investor in Vietnam, after the Netherlands and the U.K., and ranks 16th among 114 countries and territories investing in the Southeast Asian nation.

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