Chirac sees France getting good deal in China

11th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 10 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac said Sunday that a state visit he was currently making to China was yielding good opportunities for French companies and rejected fears that outsourcing or technology transfers might pose long-term competitive problems.

PARIS, Oct 10 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac said Sunday that a state visit he was currently making to China was yielding good opportunities for French companies and rejected fears that outsourcing or technology transfers might pose long-term competitive problems.  

"I am satisfied," Chirac told state television network France 2 in an interview from Beijing half-way through his four-day visit.  

"There is a place to fill in China, a country with considerable development, and France must fill it. It is filling it, and I am happy about that," he said.  

In terms of high-technology companies, Chirac said "France is very well placed," particularly in the transport, nuclear energy and aviation sectors.  

"Where we are weak - and that is one of the aims of my trip - is at the level of small- and medium-sized businesses, and maybe because we don't act sufficiently in concert," he said, reiterating a hope to see the number of smaller French companies in China double within three years to match those of Germany and Italy.  

France currently ranks as China's fourth-biggest trading partner in the European Union and it wants to climb up the scale.  

At stake is a piece of China's USD 1.4 trillion economy, which is continuing to expand at around nine percent this year.  

Bilateral exchanges stand at USD 13.4 billion yet French companies hold only 1.2 percent of the Asian giant's vast emerging market, and the trade deficit with China currently stands at around USD 6 billion.  

French investment last year totalled USD 7.4 billion compared to USD 10 billion from Germany.  

While the trip has resulted in multi-million-euro contracts being signed with some companies - notably a EUR 1 billion deal for French engineering group Alstom to supply trains and the French-based Airbus company selling six aircraft - the investment tally was lower than French executives accompanying Chirac had anticipated.  

Hoped-for orders for Airbus A380 superjumbos, tenders for nuclear power plants and a piece of a USD 12 billion high-speed rail project between Beijing and Shanghai all failed to materialise.  

Chirac also had to bat away fears in France that the trend towards outsourcing manufacturing jobs to China and the transfer of French technology might be creating a country that will one day turn into a juggernaut of a competitor across several industries.  

The president said that France could not afford to join the rush to sign deals in China "because if we don't go, others will go in our place and that will be less revenue, work and employment for France."  

Chirac added that French companies would reinvest the money raised from selling manufacturing technology to Chinese counterparts to extend their research and development edge.  

He also said the huge numbers of consumers - particularly the newly rich - in China meant French companies were growing. Taking one example, he said luxury leather goods group Louis-Vuitton was employing 500 more people per year in France.

© AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article