Vietnam a potential market for French businesses, investors: experts

French businesses should innovate their approach, enhance their understanding of culture and language, and make changes to adapt to Vietnam’s transitioning economy in order to expand their market share and boost investment in the Southeast Asian nation, said Dr. Jean-Philippe Eglinger, the founder of the Viet Phap Strategies.

Addressing a seminar held by Salveo/Adit/ESL economic information consulting firm on April 4 in Paris to introduce investment potential and promote economic and trade cooperation between France and Vietnam, Eglinger said Vietnam is a large and highly potential market, and businesses from both sides have an opportunity to capitalise on strengths generated by the strategic partnership between the two nations and the EU – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

He underlined the need for the two sides to conduct research so as to understand more about each other’s market and strengthen training to have more French people who can speak the Vietnamese language and understand Vietnamese culture.

French businesses should seek opportunities in other localities nationwide besides the two major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, he noted.

According to the expert, Vietnam’s economy is undergoing a strong transformation from a production model relying on assembling products for export to a new one with added value and higher competitiveness.

Vietnam has been concentrating on training and upgrading products. It has joined many FTAs, including new-generation ones which have higher requirements related to environmental protection and labourers, and product origin.

France used to lead foreign investment into Vietnam among countries outside Asia, but French businesses failed to capitalise on Vietnam’s integration into the global economy, he said.

Statistics show that there are 170 French businesses operating in Vietnam, including large corporations investing in projects that are important to Vietnam’s development, such as the renewable energy producer EDF Renewables and Bouygues Corporation which have invested in the two projects worth 1.5 billion EUR (over 1.64 billion USD).

Prof. Pierre Journoud from Paul Valéry Montpellier University spoke highly of Vietnam’s foreign policy of multilateralisation, demonstrated through its increasingly important role in regional and international organisations, as well as its strategic partnerships with many countries around the world.

Journoud said Vietnam has also made positive contributions to the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) and joined many bilateral and trilateral cooperation programmes. In its relationship with Vietnam, France is a reliable partner that has supported the country to overcome difficulties in its international integration process.

Tristan Cotte, Managing Director of Salveo – a subsidiary of ADIT Group which specialises in investment consulting, said Vietnam is a typical example of economic recovery ability, therefore many French businesses are interested in this market.

The firm’s experts will assist French companies in turning their ideas into specific projects, helping French businesses find local partners, he affirmed.