Untapped potential for Vietnam in Francophone African market

06:00 | 21/12/2020 Cooperation

(VEN) - The Francophone African market, a bloc expected to become a new economic development center, is a promising potential market for Vietnamese enterprises in the post-Covid-19 period.

untapped potential for vietnam in francophone african market
Many Vietnamese products were introduced at the recent online seminar on potential prospects for expanding economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and French-speaking territories in Africa

An online seminar on potential prospects for expanding economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and French-speaking territories in Africa was recently hosted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade in coordination with the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), attracting the participation of hundreds of business representatives including many from corporations and companies in French-speaking countries in Africa. According to information released by organizers, trade between Vietnam and 32 French-speaking countries in Africa increased from US$2.7 billion in 2015 to US$4.5 billion in 2019, growing an average of 13.6 percent per year. It accounted for about 1.1 percent of the bloc’s trade with the world.

Le Hoang Oanh, Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Asia-Africa Market Department, said although it is facing difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic, trade between Vietnam and Africa has huge development potential in the post-Covid-19 period thanks to the traditional friendship and growing diplomatic ties.

Oanh said many Francophone African countries are endeavoring to restore and develop their economies, and urbanization is taking place at a rapid pace there, while high-income and middle-income earner communities continue to increase. On the other hand, the import-export goods structures of Vietnam and French-speaking countries in Africa are complementary. French-speaking countries in Africa are important providers of input materials for Vietnam’s manufacturing industries including raw cashews, cotton, copper, and wooden products, with import value of these goods accounting for roughly 80-90 percent of Vietnam’s total import value from French-speaking countries in Africa. Vietnam has become one of the world’s five biggest countries in terms of cashew and textile exports, and Africa plays a very important role in providing raw materials for these exports’ production.

Cooperation opportunities

There are many cooperation and joint venture opportunities the fields of oil and gas exploration and exploitation, mining, chemical and fertilizer production, textile and garment, leather and footwear, wood production and refining, and production and processing of agricultural products, food and beverages. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) makes Africa the largest free trade area in terms of the number of participating countries, offering investment opportunities in the US$3.4 trillion market.

Chékou Oussouman, Chief Representative of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) Asia-Pacific Regional Office in Hanoi, said Vietnam is considered a gateway to Southeast Asia for African businesses, while countries from that continent can also serve as attractive destinations for Asian businesses, including those from Vietnam.

He explained that there are similarities between Vietnam and Africa which both possess a young population, natural resources, a diverse range of cultures, and complementary economies.

The Asia-Africa Market Department director Le Hoang Oanh said the Ministry of Industry and Trade will continue to focus on removing obstacles to trade between Vietnam and Francophone African countries. The ministry will help Vietnamese businesses research markets and connect directly with potential partners in the region, she said.

In particular, the Covid-19 pandemic is increasing the demand for developing and maintaining stable, sustainable supply chains to avoid heavy dependence on a few certain partners.

Vietnam wants to promote cooperation with French-speaking countries in Africa to develop supply chains in the fields of rice, cotton, cashews, wood, textile and garment, leather and footwear, and health products, for the benefit of both sides, Oanh said.

The Francophone bloc in Africa consists of 32 countries with a total population of more than 570 million. Vietnam’s main exports to this bloc include rice (accounting for 21 percent of Vietnam’s total rice export value), mobile phones and components, computers, and electronic products and components.

Hoa Quynh & Thu Thuy