French ambassador looks for more exchanges with China

Updated: 2015-12-01 06:46


  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

France has confidence in China's economic transformation and is interested in more investment and people-to-people exchanges with China, said Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, French ambassador to China.

"We hope China's strong and increasing investment in France will continue, people-to-people exchanges will be more frequent, and more tourists will visit France," he said last week when replying to questions about whether the terrorist attack in France on Nov 13 would affect investment and tourism in the country, at the first Sino-French Business Forum in Beijing.

Gourdault-Montagne said that this year about 2 million Chinese tourists will visit France, and by 2020, he would want the number to reach 5 million. At present, there are about 35,000 Chinese students in France, and he expects the number to reach 50,000 by 2020.

The first Sino-French business forum was held from Nov 26-27 by the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China. It has more than 1,600 member companies in China.

Gourdault-Montagne said now is a good time for China and France to seek more cooperation.

"China has decided to make economic reforms, the 13th Five-Year Plan's planning focus has been released; France is very confident in China's capability to realize the economic reform," he said.

Ma She, vice-director of the Department of European Affairs of the Ministry of Commerce of China, said that the bilateral trade volume between China and France from January to October this year reached $42.2 billion.

Moreover, two-way investment is active. For the first 10 months of this year, French companies have invested in 163 new projects, a year-on-year increase of 27 percent. The total investment volume is about $1.073 billion, up 90 percent.

China's investment in France also has been growing. In 2014, Chinese companies had invested $8.44 billion in France. The country is China's fourth-largest trading partner in the European Union and second-largest technology-importing destination. China is France's top trading partner in Asia.

Ma said that Chinese companies have signed many partnership projects with French companies in a wide range of sectors this year, such as finance, aviation and e-commerce.

2016 will be the first year of the 13th Five-Year Plan, a plan whose development vision and path will be different from previous ones, as China's economy is now in the New Normal, he said.

"The 13th Five-Year Plan has emphasized innovation, green economy, opening up and growth, and there are many opportunities behind these targets, so French companies are still likely to make great achievement in China," he said.

Michael Amouyal, general manager of the French Chamber of Commerce, said that as China's economy makes the transition from manufacturing-driven to consumer-focused, French companies could share their expertise with Chinese companies.

He said there were several main topics at the forum: the sustainable development of cities, because China's development would put the environment and people first; food security, as Chinese people would ask for more varied and good quality; tourism, because Chinese outbound tourism is booming and tourists' demands are more complicated and diversified; health care, because China has an aging population; and the development of the silver industry.

"All these themes go with China's strategic subjects, things that China would also develop with priority," he said.

"I believe that French companies' competence would match with China's demands under the New Normal, whether in health care, food security and sustainable development. Although China’s growth has slowed down, if we better position ourselves, we would still gain very good growth."

Gourdault-Montagne said that China has put forward Made in China 2025, which could be connected to French's Industry of the Future. He said that there are many similar aspects in the two initiatives, so both parties could have great potential for cooperation in energy and telecommunications. Some companies, such as Schneider Electric SA, already have some projects going on in energy-efficient technology.

Cooperation in a third country is also a new trend for Sino-French cooperation. He said that France pays a lot of attention to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which would connect many regions and countries by airlines, railways and sea transportation. France is particularly interested in the financing of the Belt and Road Initiative.

"We believe that the Belt and Road Initiative will contribute greatly to the world's globalization and will also bring economic growth and stability for countries along the way," he said. "France and China would have great potential in cooperating in a third country along the way.

"France was one of the countries that joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank at the beginning, which shows our confidence in China's ability to play a leading role in a third country market," he said. "We would like to cooperate with China in Asia and all the other regions in the world."