France-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentarians’ Group, Senator Catherine Deroche (left) and Vietnamese Ambassador to France Nguyen Ngoc Son (centre) at the seminar (Photo: VNA)

Paris (VNA) – Officials, diplomats and experts from Vietnam and France gathered at a seminar in Paris on November 18 to discuss measures to enhance the bilateral strategic partnership signed in 2013.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, President of the France-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentarians’ Group, Senator Catherine Deroche hailed positive changes that Vietnam has made to develop itself into one of the most dynamic economies in the Asia-Pacific, as well as the extensive development of bilateral ties via effective projects.

Vietnamese Ambassador to France Nguyen Ngoc Son, for his part, said since 1993, France has been the second largest bilateral donor of Vietnam, behind Japan, promising 3 billion EUR (4.2 billion USD).

With 3.4 billion USD worth of total investment, France is now the third largest European investor in Vietnam and ranks 16 th among countries and territories investing in the country. Last year, two-way trade hit 4.3 billion USD.

The success of the “France-Vietnam Cultural Exchange Year 2013-2014” has made France the second popular destination chosen by Vietnamese students.

Currently, France is the 15th biggest importer of Vietnamese goods and the 13 th largest supplier of commodities to Vietnam. Statistics last year showed that the volume of French goods in Vietnam remains modest, accounting for nearly 1 percent, behind Germany and Italy.

According to the ambassador, the annual high-level economic dialogue affords a chance for both countries to touch upon strategic trade and investment issues and remove trade hindrances.

The opening of the Business France bureaus in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City also makes it easier for French enterprises to access Vietnam, he said.

In his speech, Ambassador Christian Lechervy, French Permanent Secretary for the Pacific, underlined Vietnam’s important role in multilateral organisations such as the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

He also mentioned the peaceful settlement of disputes in the East Sea to ensure an environment conductive for cooperation and development.

Participants also attended two round-table discussions themed “Economic cooperation and sustainable development” and “France-Vietnam strategic partnership”, during which they proposed initiatives and measures to deepen bilateral ties.-VNA