A seminar on boosting Vietnam – France economic ties via the EU – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) took place in Paris on December 20, attracting about 100 participants.
Sponsored by the France – Vietnam Friendship Association, the Association of Vietnamese in France and the Foyer Vietnam organisation, the event gathered historians, politicians, and legal and economic experts as speakers.
Senator Catherine Deroche, President of the France-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentarians’ Group, said the EVFTA, which is expected to be ratified by the European Parliament and take effect in mid-2019, will create opportunities for Vietnam and France to develop their potential sectors and send out a message on France’s readiness for cooperation with Southeast Asia.
She noted that her group at the French Senate will lobby for the speedy ratification of the FTA.
Laurence Daziano, an economist and lecturer at the Sciences Po university, affirmed Vietnam is a strategic selection of the EU based on five criteria.
According to her, regarding population scale, the country has a young and well-educated workforce. In terms of economic growth, it is the 6th biggest economy in Southeast Asia. Concerning the rate of urbanisation, the number of Vietnamese living in urban areas has increased quickly, making up 34 percent of the total population in 2015 compared to 19 percent in 1990. Vietnam’s demand for infrastructure construction and modernization is on the rise. Finally, thanks to its political stability and suitable policy for investment attraction, the country has climbed up the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings.
Participants agreed that the EVFTA will facilitate European countries’ trade through tariff cut for auto and wine/alcohol products, the accreditation of geographical indications protection, and high environmental protection standards.
They noted that French investors are interested in new opportunities in Vietnam, which is a gateway for them to access the Southeast Asian market of more than 600 million people.
Injecting 3.4 billion USD into the Vietnamese market, France is now ranked third among European investors in the country. Nearly 300 French enterprises are operating in Vietnam, creating some 26,000 jobs. The two countries marked 45 years of diplomatic relations and 5 years of strategic partnership in 2018, with General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietname Nguyen Phu Trong visiting France in March and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe visiting Vietnam in November.