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Mar 22, 2022 / 22:34

Vietnam – 1st destination for Francophone businesses

Vietnam is a key Francophone member state and an example of integration into the global economy for many African countries.

Vietnam is the first member state receiving Francophone businesses from Africa, Europe and North America since the global health crisis in early 2020.

 Francophone businessmen at a meeting in Vietnam on Mar 22. Photo: VNA

A delegation of more than 80 businesses from the Francophonie (the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie – OIF), a grouping of mostly French-speaking countries, is on a visit to Vietnam to seek investment opportunities in the 100-million nation shortly after it opened borders to international visitors after two years. 

This is the biggest business delegation visiting Vietnam since the country switched from the zero-Covid strategy to flexible adaptation to Covid-19 in October 2021.

The delegation led by Secretary General of La Francophonie Louise Mushikiwabo will exchange views on trade and investment with a focus on agriculture – food processing, goods and digital services, and renewable energy.

The trip is the first of its kind that largely helps the Francophonie implement its Economic Cooperation Strategy 2020-2025.

Opportunities open up for the fact that Vietnam joined 17 free trade agreements (FTA) involving dozens of countries, including many in the Francophonie which would make the country potential destination for French-speaking businesses. 

 Francophone delegates visit FPT in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Mar 22. Photo: VNA 

Vietnam – active member

Vietnam is considered a member of the core developing group, having a significant role in the planning and implementation of cooperation strategies of the Francophone community.

Since joining the OIF in 1979, Vietnam has proactively promoted connection and economic cooperation in the Francophonie especially after it hosted the 7th Francophone Summit in 1997, the first and only summit held in Asia so far.

The country, with the support of the OIF – the group of about 300 million French speakers, has hosted different international forums on economic cooperation between Vietnam and Africa and those on agriculture collaboration.

Since March 2019, Vietnam has chaired the Permanent Council of the Francophonie (CPF). In September 2020, Vietnamese Ambassador Tran Thi Hoang Mai was nominated as Chief Representative of the OIF in West Africa, the first Asian who led an OIF regional office.

The National Assembly of Vietnam currently works as deputy president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie (APF).

Since the 1990s, the OIF Asia-Pacific Regional Office and the Francophone University Agency (AUF) Asia-Pacific Office were set up in Vietnam with the participation of more than 40 Vietnamese universities. In addition, the Asia-Pacific French Training Center is headquartered in Vietnam.

During its non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council in 2020-2021, Vietnam addressed issues and sought solutions for conflicts in Francophone countries in Africa. It also helped promote trilateral cooperation among the UN – OIF – the African Union. Currently, Vietnamese peacekeepers are joining UN missions in an OIF member state, the Central African Republic.

Over the past decades, Vietnam has received great financial and technical support from the Francophonie. In turn, Vietnam has strengthened relations with all Francophone member states including developed countries like France, Canada, Belgium and developing partners in Africa, according to Vietnamese Ambassador to France and Representative of Vietnam to the Francophonie Dinh Toan Thang.

Vietnam has been praised for its leading contributions to the development of the Francophonie and its image in the Asia-Pacific.

For many French-speaking countries, Vietnam is an example of resistance against invaders, poverty reduction, and development and international integration. They consider Vietnam as a reliable partner, promote cooperation through projects of Vietnamese firms, including Viettel, the Vietnamese military telecommunication carrier.

For its contributions to the Francophonie, OIF high-ranking delegations have paid different visits to Vietnam, of those, five tours paid by OIF Secretary General in 1998, 2004, 2014, 2016, and 2019.

French is one of the most popular second languages in Vietnam. The country is home to some 600,000 French speakers.