Mme Nicole Bricq, Minister of Foreign Trade, went to London on 9 September. This visit is consistent with a strong desire to boost intra-European trade, with France’s trade deficit with the European Union countries increasing tenfold over the past 10 years.
So the Minister went to meet export companies and partners from “Better Eating” (1) sectors, in which we still have the biggest trade surplus with the United Kingdom, but which are suffering from increased competition, particularly from the Netherlands, which has recently become the number one supplier.
Bids that aren’t focused enough and are too complicated, failure to tailor our products to British demand… our weak points are known. To remedy this, Nicole Bricq would like to develop the “exporter clubs” in order to group together exporting SMEs in a given sector on the basis of a common strategy.
The visit also provided the opportunity to discuss trade policy issues with Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade and Investment. The two ministers thus highlighted the importance they attached to transparency in the negotiations on the Transatlantic Partnership Agreement. Given the systemic aspect of the agreement, it is essential to bring together those in Parliament, businesses and civil society. Both ministers also indicated that the agreement will have to be ambitious when it comes to opening up public procurement markets and focus on financial services regulation. They called for the utmost vigilance concerning the inclusion of an investment protection chapter.
Finally, the Minister took part in a public debate with the French community – at the invitation of Axelle Lemaire, the deputy for French nationals living in Northern Europe – on France’s competitiveness and help for companies to operate internationally.
This is part of a European round of visits which has already taken the Minister to Sweden and Lithuania, and will take her to Poland, Italy, Denmark and Germany in the next few weeks./.
(1) In order to tailor its offer most effectively to foreign demand, France is focusing on sectors where there will be high demand worldwide in the future and has developed a strategy whereby these sectors are grouped under four headings: “A Better Urban Lifestyle”, “Better Eating”, “Better Health” and “Better Communication”.