China, France enhance biz links

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China will boost economic relations with France and enhance business cooperation in both traditional sectors like aviation, nuclear energy and high-end consumption and emerging areas like medicine and new energy, senior officials said on Thursday.

Yu Yuantang, head of the European Department of the Ministry of Commerce, said at the fifth meeting of the Franco-Chinese Business Council that the Chinese path to modernization will provide new opportunities, new drivers and new space for the growth of both Chinese and French enterprises. The meeting was attended by over 100 French and Chinese companies seeking business cooperation.

It was held as part of the state visit of French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron, who began his three-day visit to China on Wednesday, is accompanied by a delegation of more than 50 business leaders, including top executives of aircraft maker Airbus, railway equipment manufacturer Alstom and energy giant EDF.

Yu said at the Thursday meeting that as an influential power in the European Union, France should shoulder the shared responsibilities with China to safeguard the free trade system and maintain a stable and secure supply chain between China and the EU.

China and the EU are two big markets promoting shared development. Last year, China and the EU made steady progress despite numerous challenges, with bilateral trade registering a record high of $847.3 billion, said Yu.

For their part, European companies, he said, also showed confidence in the Chinese market, investing $12.1 billion in all in 2022, up 70 percent from 2021.

"China will support the development of European enterprises in China, and encourage competent Chinese enterprises to invest in Europe," he said.

"French entrepreneurs are welcome to make long-term development strategies here (in China), and Chinese entrepreneurs are encouraged to further expand cooperation with France, thus drawing on comparative strengths to explore global markets."

Jean-Marc Fenet, minister counselor for economic affairs at the French embassy in Beijing, said the offline meeting was of great significance as it gathered over 100 French and Chinese companies, which will enhance face-to-face communication and advance win-win cooperation in various fields.

Cosmetic products giant L'Oreal signed a contract with China's e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group to highlight the circular economy and promote sustainable development. It also rolled out its Big Bang project that aims to support and incubate high-tech startups in China.

Jean-Paul Agon, chairman of L'Oreal, said that such an opportunity is vitally important as it brings the best French and Chinese companies together for better collaboration and cooperation.

In a bid to better facilitate business cooperation between China and France, Liu Jin, president of Bank of China, vowed greater support in the financial sector.

The role of the renminbi, the Chinese currency, in the two-way opening will be better leveraged. He also said that Chinese and French financial institutions in the future will strengthen the connectivity of capital markets, deepen cooperation in the RMB business and jointly expand the overall market.

The two countries boast mutual industrial complementarity and broad prospects for cooperation in third-party markets such as Africa and Southeast Asia. Financial institutions from the two sides will jointly harness their strengths in extensive global networks and enable effective information sharing in third-party markets between Chinese and French enterprises for win-win cooperation, Liu said.

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