EU warns against protectionist rhetoric of French minister

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-10-24 9:46:05

European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht warned against protectionist rhetoric adopted by French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported Tuesday.

"Mr. Montebourg appears against globalization. He is a protectionist, it is a choice. But his reasoning does not hold water," De Gucht said in an interview published by the paper.

"France can not be the only player to redistribute the cards of the world trade," he noted.

Recalling that within European Union (EU) countries, France is probably the one "that owns most firms among the top 500 industrial companies in the world," the European commissioner reminded that French companies are more successful abroad than on the French market.

The EU official questioned that without solving labor costs problem, how France can achieve reindustrialization with a system of 35-hour working time per week.

The French industrial minister on Monday, in a bid to promote "Made in France" products, blamed the World Trade Organization (WTO) for failing to better defend European and French business. But WTO chief Pascal Lamy believed the appeals to promoting the France-made would lead to patriotic protectionism, and called for more open markets.

The European commissioner also criticized the French minister for moves that go against EU rules, especially when he said he wanted to subsidize local industries. "The absence of national subsidies is one of the keys of the single market," he said.

"While trying to do so (subsidize industry), (Montebourg) will find Brussels and Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunla, on the way," warned De Gucht.

Regarding the controversy raised recently by the industrial ministry on increased imports of South Korean cars, the Belgian politician has echoed European Commission's decision to deny the request of Paris for increasing surveillance of imports.

"Figures show the free trade agreement signed with Seoul in 2011 is largely favorable to the EU. Our bilateral trade deficit fell to the lowest," he stressed.

There is no doubt that "close borders would mean back to the Middle Ages," said De Gucht.

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