From the Chinese capital, Bruno Le Maire courted Chinese investments. “I tell you with great frankness: Chinese investors are welcome in France, particularly in the field of electric vehicles, batteries and energy transition”, launched Bruno Le Maire. A position out of step with certain Western partners who are worried about their economic dependence on the Asian giant.
“We want to welcome major Chinese investments on French territory (…) by looking at what is in the domain of sovereignty and what is not in the domain of sovereignty”, warned the minister.
The Minister notably cited as an example the Chinese company XTC, which has invested with the French nuclear giant Orano in batteries in Dunkirk, and the Sino-Japanese Envision battery factory in Douai.
China wants ‘fair, just and non-discriminatory’ treatment
Bruno Le Maire was speaking during the Franco-Chinese high-level economic and financial dialogue, an annual bilateral meeting co-hosted this year with He Lifeng, Chinese Vice-Premier in charge of economic and financial issues.
The latter said he hoped that France “will provide a fairer, more just and non-discriminatory business environment” for companies in his country, assuring that Chinese investments have enabled the creation of 50,000 jobs in France in recent years. This is the first high-level Franco-Chinese economic and financial dialogue to be held physically since the Covid-19 pandemic.
These remarks by Bruno Le Maire on Chinese investments come as several Western countries, notably Germany, claim to want to reduce their economic dependence on China.
Climate change, food security, biodiversity…
“After the Covid, it is natural that all developed nations seek to have more independence in their value chain to be able to face a possible new crisis”, pleaded Bruno Le Maire facing He Lifeng. “This choice should not prevent us from also strengthening our cooperation in the areas that are necessary. »
The two countries thus discussed on Saturday global financial stability, sustainable financing of developing economies, climate change, food security and biodiversity.
Paris also says it has pleaded for a “rebalancing” of the economic relationship, as France’s trade deficit with China was nearly 54 billion euros in 2022.
Chinese electric car factories in France?
Saturday’s dialogue allowed progress on certain issues, announced Bruno Le Maire, in particular on certifications in aeronautics or cosmetics, with the creation in this field of a working group to look into the questions of intellectual property and security.
The French Minister of Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty will travel to Shenzhen (south), a large metropolis sometimes nicknamed the “Chinese Silicon Valley”, on Monday.
There he will meet Chinese investors and big bosses, including that of the car manufacturer BYD. The brand is considering opening an electric vehicle factory in Europe.