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Benin - France Relations

Relations between France and Benin, a priority country for French official development assistance, are reinforced by frequent bilateral visits. The March 2016 presidential election confirmed the solidity of Benin's democracy.

The French President received President Patrice Talon on 26 April 2016, a month after his election. Following this meeting, the Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Mr André Vallini, and the Minister of State for Relations with Parliament, attached to the Prime Minister, Mr Jean-Marie Le Guen, visited Cotonou in May 2016.

François Hollande received Patrice Talon on 12 July 2016 to discuss the France-Benin development partnership. A further meeting between the two Presidents took place on 12 December 2016 at the Élysée Palace.

Patrice Talon met with the French Minister of the Economy and Finance, Mr Michel Sapin, on 18 January 2017.

The President of the French Republic visited Cotonou on 2 July 2015 at the invitation of his Beninese counterpart. On that occasion, François Hollande commended the country for setting an example in terms of democracy.

Thomas Boni Yayi and François Hollande met several times in Paris (May 2012, August 2015 and February 2016) and during international summits. President Hollande co-chaired an event with President Boni Yayi on the abolition of the death penalty, alongside the United Nations General Assembly in New York. President Boni Yayi took part in the march on 11 January 2015 in Paris in homage to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

French exports to Benin totalled €256 million in 2015 (-2.9% compared with 2014), while French imports from this country rose from €5 million in 2014 to €7.1 million in 2015 (+42.7%).

French exports to Benin primarily consist of agrifood products (€82 million) and pharmaceutical products (€57 million). French imports remain limited: €7.1 million including €4 million of tropical fruit.

France is the third-largest bilateral provider of official development assistance to Benin after Germany and the Netherlands. The strategic focuses of cooperation between France and Benin for the period 2014-2016 were set out in the partnership framework document signed on 29 November 2013 in Cotonou.

The document, provisionally worth €102 million, focused on three main sectors: democratic governance (€24 million), sustainable development (€51-55 million), and education and vocational training (€9-11 million).

As that partnership framework document expired in December 2016, a new bilateral framework is being drawn up.

Through its cooperation initiatives, France also seeks to promote francophonie, to strengthen cultural diversity, and to support artists, actors and cultural organizations in Benin. The Institut Français in Benin plays a leading role in this field, promoting both French culture and the emergence of Beninese artists.

It should also be noted that Benin is a special partner in the field of decentralized cooperation, as 45 partnership agreements have been signed between French and Beninese local governments and over 170 projects have been implemented. Around 30 of the country’s 77 communes are involved. The second meeting on decentralized cooperation took place in Cotonou on 4-5 November 2016.

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