Chirac promotes French industry in Brazil, Chile

23rd May 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 22, 2006 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac leaves Wednesday on a four-day state visit to Brazil and Chile, aimed at boosting economic ties with two countries hailed by France as "examples" for Latin America.

PARIS, May 22, 2006 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac leaves Wednesday on a four-day state visit to Brazil and Chile, aimed at boosting economic ties with two countries hailed by France as "examples" for Latin America.

Chirac is expected late Wednesday in Brasilia, where he is to hold talks with his Brazilian counterpart Inacio Lula da Silva and address both houses of parliament before heading to Chile on Friday.

The French president is travelling with a high-powered delegation including his ministers for foreign affairs, defence, economy, industry and education.

Several dozen French business leaders will join him on the trip, including the heads of the engineering groups Alstom and Thales, the construction group Saint-Gobain, and the energy firms Areva and Suez.

The head of the submarine builder Armaris — which is owned jointly by Thales and the French state shipbuilder Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) — will also be in the delegation.

Chirac's office said he was due to discuss the possible sale of Scorpene subs to Brazil during his talks with the Brazilian president — although no major contracts were expected to be signed during the visit.

The two leaders are expected to pen a series of cooperation agreements — including on sustainable forestry and language tuition — and to set a calendar for future bilateral talks.

Friday, Chirac leaves for Santiago, in the first visit to the country by a French head of state since General Charles de Gaulle in 1964.

During his two-day stay, Chirac is to meet Chile's newly-elected Socialist president, Michelle Bachelet, and will chair a Franco-Chilean business forum and visit Santiago's largely French-built metro network.

In Chile, Chirac is expected to pay tribute to the country's strong democratic credentials, and the economic and social progress achieved since the end of the 1980s dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet.

Tensions over energy supplies from the region — following moves by Venezuela and Bolivia to nationalise oil and gas resources — are also set to loom in the background of Chirac's visit to the two countries.

The failure of Brazil and the European Union to agree on a reform of European farm subsidies — of which France is the largest beneficiary — is another sore point.

But business is set to dominate the agenda, as the delegation campaigns in support of French business interests in Chile and Brazil, where France holds a market share of 2.3 percent and 3.7 percent respectively.

"We must go where there is growth, where there is development, to talk about France's achievements, its abilities," said Chirac's spokesman Jérome Bonnafont.

Growth in Chile — viewed as Latin America's most competitive economy — is set to reach six percent this year, while Brazilian growth is set to pick up in 2006 to reach five percent.

France believes there is a "very strong potential for development" of trade with Brazil, which stands at five billion euros per year, Bonnafont said.

Chirac has already travelled this year to Thailand, India and Saudi Arabia, and is set to visit China in the autumn.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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