French Minister for Foreign Trade Nicole Bricq has suggested that Vietnam and France further enhance cooperation, especially in economics with a view to establishing a strategic partnership at the suitable time.

“ Vietnam is always a priority in my work,” the minister said at a banquet hosted by the Vietnamese Embassy in Paris on March 27 to celebrate the 40 th anniversary of Vietnam – France diplomatic ties. The event is in the framework of Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh’s visit to France from March 25-29.

France is now the second largest European investor in Vietnam and the leading provider from the European Union (EU) of official development assistance (ODA) for the country. France ’s total ODA for Vietnam has amounted to 1.2 billion EUR so far, not to mention other aids and financial loans worth 840 million EUR, including those provided by the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, she said.

Bricq proposed promoting bilateral dialogue mechanism and implementing a ministerial-level economic dialogue mechanism, which will serve as the main factor in the future strategic partnership.

She stressed that the two sides need to pay heed to market access and France’s support of Vietnam’s negotiations with the EU towards a free trade agreement.

Additionally, both nations should also work closely in health care, environment and information technology which are vital for Vietnam’s economic development.

She affirmed that it is the right time now for the two countries to work out a detailed roadmap towards establishing the strategic partnership. This content will be tabled for discussion during Bricq’s forthcoming visit to Vietnam to attend the launch of the Vietnam – France Culture Year. The minister will be accompanied by representatives from about 100 French small and medium sized businesses.-VNA