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Sino-French Cooperation Ushered in Unprecedented Opportunities

www.europe1china.com Source:EUROPECHINA 2009-11-25 13:29

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Christine Lagarde, the French Economy, Industry and Employment Minister£¬was engaged in law in her early years, and from 2005 to 2007, she was appointed as Foreign Trade Deputy Minister-level; In May 2007, Sarkozy won the presidency, and appointed Lagarde as the Agriculture Minister of the new government; In June 19 the same year, the new French government carried out restructuring, during which Lagarde was officially nominated as the French Economy, Finance and Employment Minister. During her term of office, she attached great importance to developing economic and trade cooperation with China and visited China many times.
On October 28, 2009, after meeting with Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, Lagarde£¬the French Economy, Industry and Employment Minister£¬hoped that this visit will further deepen and promote the Sino-French bilateral economic and trade relations, accelerating the trade & investment and business cooperation between the two countries.
Only by strengthening cooperation, can both countries get over the crisis
It is known that the financial crisis and world economic recession had a great impact on the French economy. Statistics of French Ministry of Economy, Industry and Employment shows that until September this year, unemployment population in France has reached more than 2.57 million people, rising 25% compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, according to statistics, in 2008 France's export to China was 9 billion euros ¡ª a noticeable reduction. In the first half of 2009, French export to China fell by 16%. China, as the largest developing country, didn't escape from this crisis either. In 2008 there was a positive growth in China's import and export, but compared with 2007, it had a significantly lower growth rate. In 2009, China's foreign trade keeps dropping greatly. In the first half of the year, the total import and export was 946.1 billion US dollars, decreasing 23.5% compared with the same period last year. Trade surplus was 96.9 billion US dollars, decreasing 2.1 billion US dollars. Lagarde stressed that in the context of global financial crisis, there was a drop in both France and China's import and export trade volume. She hoped that this visit would further deepen the economic and trade relations between the two countries and promote the bilateral trade and investment.
In fact, besides China and France, all countries' trade was affected by the crisis to different extent. According to the preliminary statistics of World Trade Organization (WTO), affected by the financial crisis and the sharp slowdown in world economic growth, in 2008, the world's merchandise trade only grew by 2% compared with last year. It is expected that in 2009, the world's merchandise trade will drop 10% compared with 2008, becoming the biggest decline since World War II. At present, the international financial crisis is still developing and spreading; the world economy is unlikely to make a remarkable recovery in a short term. Facing the difficulties in international trade and the aggravation of trade protectionism, all countries launched series of policies to promote economic growth and gave great attention to foreign trade: only by strengthening cooperation and maintaining a smooth channel of international trade, can the crisis be thoroughly resolved. Lagarde said that China and France are all trying to maintain the economic growth against the backdrop of the financial crisis, and French government has been taking positive measures. At the same time, Chinese and French governments share a lot of similarities in stimulating economic growth and are all increasing investment in supporting enterprises and improving the standard of living. The two governments also have intention to continuously help the global economy recover itself. There aren't many like this.
However, when referring to the economic recovery in France, Lagarde indicated a very optimistic outlook.  In the third quarter of this year, French economy will grow stronger compared with last quarter. France and Germany were the only two countries that achieved an economic growth in the second quarter, and the French economy was performing better in the third quarter.
China's purchasing group to France has been decided
The financial crisis resulted in the global economic downturn, and there was a sharp fall in the market of developed countries like Europe and America. Maintaining a stable economic growth, China has a very huge market space, and thus becomes the focus of attention around the world. It is known that this economic upswing of China has lasted for six years. China's economic growth in the first three quarters of 2009 has reached  7.7%, which means the 8% growth of GDP can be guaranteed, and the consumer price inflation can be controlled at 2% to 3%. In Lagarde's view, maintaining the 8% growth doesn't mean that the financial crisis has a small impact on China, but because China is in an economic transition and a particular stage of development. But China's market demand is huge, which gives the enterprises in the two countries unprecedented opportunities for cooperation.
At present, China is actively promoting industrial restructuring, technological innovation and energy savings, and all these are the advantages of France. Grasping this great opportunity, French enterprises call for expansion of high-tech export to China or deep cooperation with China's enterprises. Lagarde believed it very important to promote the two countries' cooperation in energy environmental protection, food processing, finance and small and medium enterprises. Vigorously promoting this cooperation and jointly resisting trade protectionism are also conducive to the establishment of a new Sino-French partnership. Lagarde admitted that China's purchasing group had settled the date for visit to France ¡ª 26th to 27th next week. This will enhance the bilateral enterprise investment and cooperation in trade and service fields. By then, there will be more than 100 Chinese enterprises enrolled in this delegation, including aviation, energy, transportation, electricity and other traditional fields.  The two sides will tap the potential for cooperation in new areas like energy-saving environmental protection, agriculture, food processing, telecommunications and logistics.
After the setbacks in the end of last year, the Sino-French relations have begun to warm up since April this year. France made intensive high-level visits to China after that, which directly stimulated the investment and trade between the two countries. Lagarde's visit to China pushed this to climax and it has been proved that the Sino-French economic cooperation needs changes in four areas: from inter-industry division of labor to division of labor within the industry; from technical trading to technological cooperation; from being each other's market to jointly exploring third-party market; from trading partners to investment partners. Lagarde showed that Enterprises in both China and France have interest and enthusiasm for investment. We will try our best to expand various forms of cooperation with China ¡ª not only encourage French enterprises to invest in China, but also attract Chinese enterprises to come and invest in France, so as to resist the financial crisis.
Economic and trade cooperation promote the warming of Sino-French relations
Since February of this year, China has sent several trade and investment promotion missions to Europe, reaching investment and trade agreement of more than 23 billion US dollars, but France was not within the destinations. To make this happen is one of the main purposes of Lagarde's visit to China, and the potential cooperation areas and the possible achievement are all considered to be important. Lagarde showed that in December this year, French Prime Minister Fillon would come and visit China and the topics for discussion would include cooperation in aerospace, transportation and energy, etc. In this context, the Sino-French economic and trade cooperation will step up to a new level, and so will the Sino-French diplomatic relations.
With trade and economic cooperation leading the way, the rapid warm-up of Sino-French relations has been irreversible. Indeed, France has been troubled by China's trade deficit and the temptation of its huge market. Seen from the current situation, China is actively increasing the investment abroad and has developed six major policies to encourage Chinese enterprises to conduct overseas acquisitions. According to statistics of Chinese Ministry of Commerce, in the first three quarters, 17 countries (regions) have received more than 100 million US dollars of China's foreign direct investment, increasing by 4 compared with the same period of last year. In the third quarter only, the foreign investment reached the record level 20.5 billion US dollars, almost doubled over the same period of last year.  Lagarde believed that in the post-crisis era, France would not lose the market share in China, and the two countries had more reasons to maintain a trade balance.
The Sino-French relations experienced twists and turns in 2008. Despite a series of diplomatic crisis, it is undeniable that neither China nor France wants a diplomatic isolation. 2009 is the 45th anniversary for China and France establishing diplomatic relations, thus this year means a lot for the Sino-French relations, and is a great opportunity for its development. Lagarde said that France hoped to deepen the cooperation with China and continuously enrich the connotation of Sino-French comprehensive strategic partnership.



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