China and France will enhance mutual economic cooperation, especially in the area of finance, according to an agreement by more than 600 participants attending the Eighth France-China Economic Conference, which ended yesterday.
The first great leap forward might be cooperation between the Euronext Stock Exchange, Europe's largest bourse by transaction volume, and the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE).
Edouard de Royere, president of the France-China Committee, said there are many similarities between SSE and Euronext, before it merged with several European bourses.
"The links between the two systems will be done in the very near future," he added.
The two-day conference brings two members of the country's finance community closer by promoting mutual understanding and learning.
French business leaders shared their expertise in banking, insurance and the securities industry with their Chinese counterparts.
"The conference provides us a valuable opportunity to learn from French finance experts in terms of business models, management and so on, which is very helpful for us to build Shanghai into a financial center," said Zhang Peiping, vice-chairman of Shanghai Sub-Council of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
Meanwhile, delegates from France also gained better understanding about the Chinese financial market after the nation's entry into the World Trade Organization in December.
De Royere said they will increase their presence in Shanghai, especially in the financial sector. However, he added they will establish more French banks in China, "not only in big cities, but also in small ones."
Currently, only a few French banks operate in China.
As the most aggressive French bank, BNP Paribas has a 50 percent stake in the International Bank of Paris and Shanghai, a joint venture bank between BNP Paribas and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
BNP Paribas has signed agreements with Shanghai-based Shenyin & Wanguo Securities and Wuhan-based Changjiang Securities to establish two joint ventures, one in fund management, the other in investment banking.
The Shanghai-based AXA-Minmetals Assurance, a joint venture between French AXA Group and China Minmetal Co, is the only French-funded insurer in China.
Last year, French companies exported goods worth more than 3 billion euros (US$2.64 billion) to China, while the import volume from China reached 10 billion euros (US$8.8 billion).
(China Daily April 5, 2002)