Special Representative, chère Martine Aubry,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have great pleasure in welcoming you to Paris today – you business leaders who have come from China and are doing us the honour of coming to our country to appreciate not only the quality of life but also the technology and the investment opportunities.
Our meeting today is part of the démarche I began in Beijing with President Xi Jinping to boost trade between our two countries and, more broadly, between Asia and Europe. This conference of your club, the China Entrepreneur Club, is the perfect example of what we – Chinese and French businesses – want to do together to the benefit and advantage of our two countries.
Europe is China’s main trading partner and the number one destination for Asian exports. But Europe isn’t yet the place where there is the most Chinese investment. After 30 years of extraordinary growth, China has become the second-largest economy on the planet. We regard her as such. So we, Europe and China, are interlinked.
Europe needs China for its own growth, and China needs Europe for her companies’ development. She needs Europe for access to tomorrow’s techologies. She needs the euro to diversify her foreign exchange reserves. The current rebalancing of Chinese growth in favour of domestic demand – like the measures taken to increase the flexibility of her foreign exchange system – are in the interests of China and Europe.
Regarding the foreign exchange system, moreover, we in France, with the Paris financial centre, are ready to play a central role in the process of internationalizing the yuan, to enable that currency to be used more effectively to settle international transactions. In a few days’ time, there will also be an agreement between the Bank of France and the Bank of China. I know discussions are well under way, too, with the European Central Bank.
A trade imbalance exists between France and China. We must work together to reduce it. China doesn’t want to be a country that wants surpluses, and I say here that France doesn’t want to be a country that wants deficits. So we’re ready to come to an understanding on that basis. The solution will never be protectionism or currency wars. So we must identify together – and it’s the goal of this meeting – the sectors where our companies can work together.
We’ve identified several areas.
The food industry first of all. We’re developing French companies’ presence in China in many fields – and I know Mme Martine Aubry is working on this, particularly in bakery, confectionery and the cooked meats trade… We’ve even decided to set up a French cookery school in China. The hallmark of French produce in those fields is quality and safety, and that’s what China is looking for. (…)
In the health field, during my visit to Beijing we created, on France’s initiative, a club of Chinese and French companies. It brings together major groups and SMEs. I’m glad to see that a Franco-Chinese maternity clinic is about to be established in Shanghai. France stands alongside China in the modernization of her hospitals. (…)
On urban development – i.e. on tomorrow’s cities – we, French and Chinese companies, can propose a comprehensive offer ranging from transport to waste management. Next year, the China Entrepreneur Club will be organizing an international summit on sustainable development. I’d like French companies to be able to participate in it fully and play a key role.
Indeed, I want to create all the conditions to ensure Chinese companies can invest more in Europe, and particularly in France. This is the purpose of the agreement on investments currently being discussed between the European Union and China. I know the Foreign Trade Minister is overseeing this. It’s also the purpose of the measures being taken by the Economy and Finance Minister to facilitate Chinese investment in France, and by the Interior Minister to remove all the controls, all the procedures which sometimes hinder the arrival in France of entrepreneurs or researchers or young people from China.
We must also open up our markets in a spirit of reciprocity. I want to be clear about this, because there are a number of controversies on solar panels and wine. France has always been in favour of these disputes being resolved through negotiation and in a spirit of conciliation.
We must do everything to ensure the conditions for fair competition are created, but above all avoid unilateral measures, protectionist measures and the closure of markets. These would be good for neither Europe nor China. I trust in this spirit of cooperation which drives us and the Chinese authorities, so that we can find the right solutions without there being a need to stigmatize anyone at all. (…)./.