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France pledges ongoing support to Laos

France has promised to further strengthen bilateral relations with Laos, including in the fields of agriculture, renewable energy, and tourism as part of efforts to boost sustainable development.
French Ambassador to Laos, Mrs Florence Jeanblanc-Risler, highlighted the strong bilateral relationship along with plans to support the Lao government when she appeared before the media on Tuesday, ahead of the French national day (Bastille Day) which will be celebrated in Vientiane on July 14.
The first priority is to be a partner to Laos’ sustainable development in line with the strategies set by the Lao government and in line with French preferences.
“Our support includes several sectors: agriculture, renewable energy and sustainable tourism,” she said.
“The second priority of our work aims to enhance Laos’ development actors. That means firstly working with youth; secondly, to support the private sector and the emergence of a strong SME network, strongly committed to social and environmental responsibility; and, finally, to support the organisations that structure Lao society,” she said.
The third priority is regional integration as Laos is part of a wider region, she noted, while giving the Mekong River Commission as an example. Health, biodiversity, trade, and investment all have a regional dimension and need regional cooperation.
The ambassador also highlighted the multiple partnerships serving sustainable development in the tourism sector.
For several years, the two countries have successfully cooperated in various sectors such as hydroelectricity, forestry, agriculture, mining and tourism, representing economic opportunities for Laos.
Over the last 10 years, the French government has been assisting various sectors including culture, the economy, civil society, agriculture and rural development, justice and education.
France is a significant investor in Laos through the Nam Theun 2 hydropower project. Électricité de France International’s stake is an excellent example of a substantial hydro-power investment which contributes to the development of Laos in general.
At present, some 72,000 students are learning French in Laos and La Semaine de la Francophonie (Francophonie Week) is celebrated across the country.
Since Laos and France established diplomatic relations on July 31, 1951, friendly relations and close cooperation have continued to flourish, notably in the fields of education and health.
France and Laos also share a language through the use of French, which is still very much alive today.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update July 11, 2019)

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