The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs
Spokesperson


Paris - February 8, 2018
In this issue:

◢  Foreign trade – Presentation of the figures for 2017 (February 7, 2018)

◢  European Union

◢  Vietnam

 
Foreign trade – Presentation of the figures for 2017 (February 7, 2018)

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, presented the foreign trade figures for 2017 on February 7.

These figures show that France—with goods exports increasing by 4.5% to €473.2 billion—adequately benefited from world trade momentum (+4.7%) by stabilizing its market shares. After a year in equilibrium, the balance of trade in services also improved, with a surplus of €5.4 billion, notably as a result of strong performances in the tourism sector.

However, this momentum was also accompanied by a significant increase in the trade deficit, which although falling short of the dismal 2011 deficit figure, was affected by the energy bill, which increased in 2017, accounting for 63% of our overall deficit, as well as by the momentum in the French domestic market driven by the upturn in household consumption and business investment which boosted our imports of goods.

Improving our export performance is one of the government's policy objectives. The measures to lower labor costs (decreased social security contributions) as well as to reduce the cost of capital (reduced corporate tax rates, introduction of a tax on real estate assets and a single flat rate tax) will improve the competitiveness of our firms. Expanding the pool of export firms, which has now levelled off, is also a goal. The prime minister will shortly announce the government's foreign trade strategy, which will focus on three areas: training, reform of business support services and export finance reform.

The figures included in the report can be found on the France diplomatie website.



European Union

Do you have any response to the European Parliament's rejection of transnational lists yesterday for the upcoming elections in 2019?

The European Parliament voted yesterday on its make-up following the European elections in 2019. It did not retain the principle of transnational lists for the upcoming elections in 2019, despite a positive vote by the commission and the support of numerous groups and parliamentarians (368 to 274).

We regret this.

France will continue to champion this idea, whose goal is to strengthen European democracy by creating—during European elections—a debate on European and not strictly national challenges.

In the text adopted yesterday, the total number of European deputies was reduced to take Brexit into account, in a spirit of responsibility. France succeeded in obtaining five more seats to better reflect our demographic importance. In 2019 our country will thus hold 79 seats out of 705 (currently 74 out of 751). This is vital to France's influence in Europe.



Vietnam

A Vietnamese dissident blogger Hoang Duc Binh was sentenced on Tuesday to 14 years in prison. How do you respond to recent convictions of human rights activists and bloggers in Vietnam?

France is concerned by the very heavy 14-year prison sentence imposed on Vietnamese national Hoang Duc Binh, as well as by the increase in the number of detentions and convictions of human rights activists and bloggers for the expression of their opinions.

We call on Vietnam to abide by all of its international commitments in the areas of free expression and free opinion.


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