Vietnam seeks to boost trade with Francophone countries

06:00 | 12/04/2022 Cooperation

(VEN) - The International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF) offers Vietnamese enterprises opportunities to cooperate with businesses in French-speaking countries on farm produce and food processing, renewable energy and digital technology.

Strengths and potential

The IOF was established in 1970 and currently has 54 members, seven associated members and 27 observers, representing a total population of about 900 million, including about 300 million French speakers (600,000 of whom are in Vietnam), and accounting for 20 and 16 percent of global trade and gross domestic product (GDP), respectively.

The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and a top-level IOF delegation held a business forum in Ho Chi Minh City on March 22.

vietnam seeks to boost trade with francophone countries
A Francophone business forum on March 22 in Ho Chi Minh City

According to VCCI Vice President Hoang Quang Phong, Vietnam trades with 44 of the 54 OIF official members. Trade between Vietnam and OIF economies reached US$26.7 billion in 2019, including US$19 billion worth of Vietnam’s exports and US$7.7 billion worth of Vietnam’s imports. In 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, trade declined 9.5 percent to US$24.2 billion, but began to recover in 2021.

Vietnam’s main exports to OIF countries include rice, mobile phones, computer components, electronic products, motorcycles and motorcycle spare parts.

Sixteen of the 54 OIF countries invest in Vietnam, with 1,450 projects totaling almost US$16 billion. A number of Vietnamese state-owned corporations and private enterprises have invested in French-speaking Africa nations in the fields of oil and gas exploitation, telecommunications, hydropower, and wood processing.

Investment opportunities

Vietnam has always been an active member of the OIF, playing an important role in promoting relations between its member states and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. Vietnam also plays an important role in OIF cooperation strategy planning and implementation, especially economic cooperation.

vietnam seeks to boost trade with francophone countries
vietnam seeks to boost trade with francophone countries

Secretary General of the International Organization of La Francophonie, Louise Mushikiwabo said one of the OIF’s orientations for the 2021-2025 period is to promote trade and investment between member countries and countries around the globe. Vietnam offers many investment opportunities for businesses and foreign investors, especially in the fields of agriculture, processing industry, renewable energy, and digital technology, she said.

Vietnam and OIF countries have complementary and mutually compatible conditions for development. Vietnam offers the right conditions to help strengthen intra-regional linkages and closed production and distribution supply chains stretching from Africa to Europe and North America, Mushikiwabo said.

Pham Minh Tuan, Vice Chair of Bamboo Capital, said Vietnam and the OIF have a long-term relationship. The organization has had many support programs for Vietnam since the country began opening its doors to the outside world, focusing increasingly on trade promotion, apart from cultural exchange stimulation, he said. Over the past three years, Bamboo Capital has welcomed a large number of OIF firms seeking investment in Vietnam, Tuan said.

VCCI Vice President Hoang Quang Phong said that since it became an official member of the OIF, Vietnam has played an important role in the organization’s activities in the Asia-Pacific region as well as in promoting relations between the OIF community and ASEAN.

Ngoc Thao