Expert makes recommendations for stronger Vietnam - France economic links

A French expert has suggested some measures for strengthening economic links between Vietnam and France during a recent interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations (April 12) and 10 years of strategic partnership.

Dr Jean-Philippe Eglinger from France’s National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations (INALCO) said that France was one of the first countries to come to Vietnam when the Southeast Asian nation opened its door to foreign investment and trade in the early 1990s. Bilateral ties have recorded much progress since then, with the strategic partnership established in 2013.

Relations between the two countries have been reinforced with an increase in mutual high-ranking visits. Cooperation has also been expanded to new areas like climate change fight, with the French Development Agency (AFD) playing the main role, he noted.

However, he held that economic ties have yet to be on par with the sound political relationship and the two economies’ potential.

Eglinger cited data from the French Treasury as showing that France’s investment in Vietnam stood at about 2-3.8 billion EUR in 2022 (nearly 2.2-4.2 billion USD at the current exchange rate). France ranked 16th among foreign investors in Vietnam and third among European ones, after the Netherlands and the UK.

Last year, the European country recorded a trade deficit of 5.7 billion EUR with Vietnam, rising 35% from 2021.

To increase French enterprises’ presence in Vietnam, he recommended the two sides enhance partnerships in agriculture to cope with food security issues, in new information technology to meet the modernisation demand amid the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and in health care to meet growing demand in Vietnam.

As Vietnam is shifting from public investment to private funding or public-private partnership, France should align its financial plan with new orientations. It can also help equip Vietnamese partners with skills in the areas its partners wish to develop to deal with future challenges to the Vietnamese economy, Eglinger noted.

The expert perceived that education-training is also a field in which France’s capacity has been recognised and highly valued in Vietnam, noting France is implementing many talent training programmes and new projects here which are based on the establishment of joint incubators to develop startups in potential areas.

He also underlined the necessity to provide initial training for French entrepreneurs who will come to Vietnam, explaining that they need strong knowledge about the Vietnamese language and culture to stay confident and active in the country.