During her official visit to Laos from 13 to 15 October 2016, Ms. Michaëlle JEAN, Secretary General of La Francophonie, invited the Lao authorities to contribute to the construction of the Francophone economic space, stimulated by the adoption of the Economic Strategy for Francophonie at the XVth Summit of La Francophonie in November 2014 in Dakar, Senegal. This collective project is being built and enriched on the basis of the shared French language, the structural transformation of Francophone economies and the development of economic and commercial relations between Francophone countries. In this context and on the eve of the Summit of La Francophonie held in Madagascar on the theme of "Shared Growth and Responsible Development", Mrs. JEAN reaffirmed in Vientiane the will of la Francophonie to accompany Laos in its efforts to break its land isolation and diversify its economic and commercial partnerships.

Indeed, the Francophone economic space is a space of opportunities and bridges with 84 member and observer States and governments spread over the 5 continents and with different levels of development (G7 and G20 member countries, emerging countries, least advanced and developing countries). It represents a total population of more than 900 million inhabitants, including 275 million French speakers, about 16% of the world's GDP and 20% of the world's merchandise trade. Thus, the development of trade flows among the member countries within this space may allow Laos to expand the outlets for its goods and services. Such a development can also enable Laos to assert its position as a gateway to ASEAN and to capture the capital and technology needed to maintain sustained growth in its economy.

Two years ago, the Dakar Summit marked the consecration of the economic dimension of belonging to La Francophonie. May we all be moved by the same ambition: States and governments, Francophonie operators, local authorities, professional organizations, the private sector, academia and civil society, to translate it into the economic life of our countries and into the daily life of our populations. May companies, especially SMEs and SMIs, and I insist on this, be at the forefront of this mobilization of all the vital forces of la Francophonie because they generate the bulk of the wealth and jobs in our member countries and it is they who must and will make theirs and revitalize the Francophone economic space.

In this spirit, the International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF) welcomes the ever-developing economic initiatives such as Vientiane Rendez-Vouz and invites companies from all over francophone countries to participate in business discussions, discover and seize business and investment opportunities in one of the most dynamic regions of the world. IOF is willing to make a useful contribution through its economic programs and its Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. That is why I wanted OIF to participate in the seminar "La Francophonie économique, a space of opportunities for Laos and other francophone countries".

I wish full success to the second edition of the Vientiane Rendez-Vouz.

Adama OUANE,
Administrateur de l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie