Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

France welcomes Chinese investment, not 'looting': minister

Getty Images Brigitte Macron news The French first lady stood out in red Getty Images Brigitte Macron news The French first lady stood out in red
Melinda Barton | 12 January, 2018, 20:34

President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday offered to open up France to Chinese investment in exchange for greater access to Chinese markets for French companies, warning that existing trade imbalances would lead to protectionism.

Despite their amicable tone, the visit produced no breakthroughs on Europe's mounting frustration over China's market barriers and complaints its exports of low-priced steel are threatening European jobs.

Both also are looking for a bigger voice in global economic and security management, though their potential for cooperation might be hampered by trade and other disputes.

"By definition these roads can only be shared", he told an audience of academics, students and business people.

The two reassured each other they would "deepen cooperation" on environment and climate change, and applauded each other's recent achievements: the Paris One Planet Summit hosted by France and soft launch of a national emissions trading scheme in China. "If they are roads, they can not be one-way", he said.

He also said Beijing is for coordinating with France on major worldwide issues in the hope of promoting world stability and prosperity.

"But with French beef consumption falling five percent a year, we have to find new markets", said economy minister Bruno Le Maire, who is travelling with Macron.

"If we don't deal with this responsibly, the first, natural, reaction will be to close up on both sides".

President Macron also confirmed that he and his Chinese counterpart have discussed sales of Airbus A350 and the A380 superjumbo jet, with China still maintaining its order parity with Airbus and American rival Boeing.

In June, he urged the European Commission to build a system for screening investments in strategic sectors from outside the bloc, which drew criticism from Beijing.

Some analysts argue that given Chinese President Xi Jinping's frequent stated opposition to protectionism and support for globalization, he has no choice but to press ahead with reforms and soon.

The trip comes as Britain's impending departure from the European Union and the more inward-looking policies of U.S. President Donald Trump have raised the prospect of a possible realignment of global influence. "It will be hard and take time, because France will be entering a very competitive market already open to the US, Uruguay, Canada and Australia", he said.