China, France to work more on B&R, ease trade deficit
Global Times

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte pose during their visit to the Forbidden City in Beijing on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron made a joint declaration on Tuesday to deepen cooperation on the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative and to work together to fight terrorism and climate change.

The two leaders agreed to advance their countries' comprehensive strategic partnership with further, steady development. Macron is on a state visit to China from Monday to Wednesday.

Closer ties between France and China will help improve Europe-China relations, with enterprises from the two countries playing key roles in tackling trade deficits, said French politicians and business representatives on Tuesday.

When meeting with Macron, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang welcomed French companies to increase investment and exports to China by lowering barriers for the export of high-tech products.

Macron presented Xi with a horse named Vesuvius on Monday.

During his three-day visit, Macron will focus on major challenges in further developing France-China ties, he noted. Particularly in terms of innovation as the "two countries have to work together more," he said.

Macron told hundreds of Chinese and French business representatives at a panel discussion on artificial intelligence (AI) in Beijing on Tuesday that China and France are expected to increase cooperation on innovation.

Macron also witnessed a slew of agreements signed after the panel, including one between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation, aiming to launch joint AI research and development.

Macron's effort to enhance relations with China is not only "an action by France, but an action by Europe," Laurent Fabius, former minister of foreign affairs of France, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Fabius also noted that Macron applauds the B&R, and he is seeking a common approach in Europe for B&R projects. "One must not oppose the French initiative and Europe initiative, two of them are going in the same direction," he said.

Dozens of Chinese and French companies jointly initiated a business council on Tuesday, supervised by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and French Ministry for the Economy and Finance. Representatives such as Bank of China and Schneider Electric will be in charge of annual planning for the bilateral cooperation.

Work together

Trade relations between China and France have dominated the agenda during Macron's visit, as France has a 30 billion euros trade deficit with the world's second-largest economy.

Business France, a national agency that supports the international development of French businesses, signed a memorandum of understanding with on Tuesday to help French enterprises expand their sale channels through the Chinese online retailer, with the goal of generating 2 billion euros in revenue over the next two years.

"China is more modern than France in express delivery, and Chinese online shoppers buy many more products through online sites compared to French people," Christophe Lecourtier, general director of the French agency, told the Global Times.

China has been playing a leading role in creating new business models and empowering traditional industries with technologies, French business representatives said.

Lecourtier said reducing the trade deficit cannot be tackled by government efforts alone. "It's about all the concrete projects that the two sides carry out… and Chinese and French companies working together to make trade relations more balanced," he noted.