French President Francois Hollande (Source: EPA/VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – The upcoming State visit to Vietnam by French President Francois Hollande from September 5-7 aims to promote the bilateral strategic partnership.

During the visit, the first to Vietnam by a French President since 2004, the two sides will review their cooperation and seek further political ties and delegation exchanges.

They will also look to improve the efficiency of bilateral cooperation and accelerate joint economic projects, especially in infrastructure, climate change adaptation, science-technology, health and agriculture.

The two countries will sign a number of new cooperation agreements in politics, economy, science-technology, agriculture and judicial affairs as well as exchange regional and international issues of mutual concern.

Vietnam and France established diplomatic ties at the ambassador level on April 12, 1973. The relationship entered into a new period since the historic visit to Vietnam by French President Francois Mitterrand in 1993 and has been consolidated by visits of the two countries’ leaders in the following years.

The two nations signed a joint statement on their strategic partnership on the occasion of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to France in September 2013.

They have fruitfully implemented various cooperation mechanisms such as the diplomacy-defence strategic dialogue, the annual high-level economic dialogue and the cooperation conference between Vietnamese and French localities.

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

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

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

Meanwhile, six Vietnamese enterprises are operating in France with a combined investment capital of 2.48 million USD.

France is Vietnam’s leading European donor in terms of official development assistance sourced from the State budget and preferential loans from the French Development Agency and the Fund of Solidarity Priority.

The bilateral affiliation in education-training has developed since the 1980s. The French Government grants 80 scholarships to Vietnamese students each year. France is home to the third largest number of Vietnamese students worldwide with more than 7,000 at present.

Besides, collaboration in culture, health care, tourism and legal affairs, as well as cooperation between the two countries’ localities and people-to-people exchanges have also produced practical results.

Multilaterally, the two countries have joined hands with each other at regional and global orgnisations and forums like the UN, the ASEAN-EU framework, the Asia-Europe Meeting and the International Francophone Organisation.

President Francois Hollande’s visit is expected by Vietnamese and French people as a boost to the bilateral ties, especially in the context that the two countries are sparing no effort to deepen the strategic partnership in a comprehensive fashion.

Prof. Pierre Journoud from the University of Paul-Valery Montpellier 3 said the visit is hoped to create a new momentum for the bilateral relations.

He said Vietnam and France hold substantial potential for cooperation and the two countries should exert greater efforts to make the two-way trade match their potential.

Patrice Jorland, former head of the France-Vietnam Friendship Association, noted his hope that the visit will help boost the bilateral relations, saying Vietnam and France have a lot of jobs to do to advance their ties.

Henry Dang, a Vietnamese lecturer at the Paris 1-Sorbonne University, said he wishes that France will show stronger support for Vietnam in the East Sea issue, and that the bilateral ties will be enhanced in a pragmatic manner in the time ahead.-VNA