China, France vow fair treatment for firms, enhanced trade ties in energy, agriculture
Move a new start for nations amid global volatility, a clear ‘no to decoupling’: analyst
Published: Apr 07, 2023 08:33 PM
China France File photo: cnsphoto

China France File photo: cnsphoto

China and France have vowed to enhance trade cooperation and provide a "non-discriminatory" environment in a slew of areas ranging from cosmetics and agriculture to energy in a joint statement released on Friday, a move experts hailed as a "new starting point" for the two nations amid global volatility, while also serving as a clear rejection of calls for "economic decoupling."

In the statement, the two nations vowed to further improve market access and the business environment and ensure respect for the intellectual property rights of each other's companies.

Coming as the Biden administration has been pressuring European countries to isolate China by imposing more trade restrictions on advanced technologies, observers noted that the expanded cooperation is a clear signal that instead of seeking "decoupling," increasing trade relations with China is in the interests of French companies, and is still a priority for major European economies like France.

Cooperation in the field of the digital economy, including 5G, was given special mention, with France promising to continue processing licensing applications from Chinese companies in a fair and non-discriminatory manner on the basis of the two countries' laws and regulations, including national security, according to the statement.

The governments of the two countries will also encourage enterprises, financial institutions and other parties to develop new major economic cooperation projects in third-party markets.

"China, France and the EU must seek common ground while reserving differences and deepen cooperation in order to cope with the current international environment of turbulent waves," Chen Jia, a macroeconomic observer, told the Global Times on Friday, noting that the enhanced cooperation between China and France as well as the EU as a whole, will meanwhile bring much-needed stability to global production and supply. 

The visit will be a new starting point, and with the continuous optimization of China's recent policies, China and France will usher in a higher level of development in terms of the international structure, economic and trade cooperation, energy, environmental protection, and people's livelihoods, Chen said.

China will unswervingly expand its opening-up and is willing to work with the European side to provide a fairer, more transparent and predictable business environment for mutual investment between China and the EU, Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao said while meeting some of the French business executives who came with Macron.

A series of agreements was also signed during the China-France Business Council on Thursday, with 36 companies from both sides inking 18 cooperation agreements in the fields of green, innovation, aviation and new energy.

"We encourage French companies to take a long-term view, continue to expand investment in China, jointly oppose the concept of 'decoupling' and 'breakage of supply and industrial chains,' and maintain the stability of the China-Europe industrial chain and supply chain," Wang said in a statement on the official website of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Friday.

As a fresh effort of better promoting French products for Chinese consumers,  China has kicked off a week-long promotion event for French products ranging from red wines to cosmetics on the nation's e-commerce platforms starting from Friday.

The event was led by China's Commerce Ministry, which organized domestic e-commerce giants including Alibaba's Tmall and to set up special promotion areas, carry out cross-border live broadcasts and other special activities for French brands and products including cosmetics, wine, home furnishing, clothing, shoes and bags. 

Roughly 500 French brands and 5,000 types of products are expected to be included in the event, the ministry said in a statement it sent to the Global Times, hoping the event will "offer consumers an all-round experience of French culture and quality goods."

"We proudly announce the 'France E-commerce Week' promotion," said in a statement it sent to the Global Times on Friday, saying that the week-long celebration will showcase and offer discounts on "high-quality" French products.

The company said French products have become increasingly favored by consumers in the world's second-largest economy over the past year, revealing that the national pavilion of France, a country-themed online flagship store on the platform, recorded a year-on-year sales growth of 100 percent in 2022.

Sales of French brands on its cross-border platform, JD Worldwide, also saw fast growth, such as René Furterer, which saw 200 percent year-on-year growth in the first quarter of 2023. In March, sales of French wine increased 230 percent year-on-year, according to the company.

China-France economic and trade exchanges have maintained a good momentum of growth. Latest statistics from France showed that the bilateral trade in goods exceeded the 100 billion euro mark for the first time in 2022, reaching 101.8 billion euros, a year-on-year increase of 14.6 percent, showing continued strong momentum.

"China occupies an important position in Alstom's global strategic map," Fang Ling, President of Alstom Asia Pacific, told media on Thursday, noting that the Chinese market is huge and full of potential and opportunities, and Alstom "is full of confidence in its development in China."