China / Politics

Xi's visit to France will open dialogue: Ambassador

By ZHAO SHENGNAN and HE LIU ( Updated: 2014-03-25 18:41

President Xi Jinping's visit to France will "open new dialogues" and see the countries sign a flurry of deals, said French ambassador to China Sylvie Bermann.

"There will be a good harvest," Bermann told China Daily before Xi starts a two-day visit to France on Wednesday, the second leg of his first European tour after becoming president more than a year ago.

The visit continues intensified high-level exchanges between Beijing and Paris throughout 2013 and activities to mark the 50th anniversary of Sino-French diplomatic relations in January.

According to the ambassador, the deals expected to be signed cover fields including aeronautics, nuclear energy, space and new sectors which can boost China's growth.

"France is very good as a world leader in environment and sustainable development, green food, health, digital economy and in other fields like automotive sectors and finance and bio-technologies, so they are all fields of agreements," she said.

Bermann said France is a very attractive country for foreign investment and welcomes Chinese investment.

"First, we are at the heart of Europe, so it is very easy to communicate with other European countries, and then, in 2013 a string of strong measures have been taken by the French government to facilitate foreign investments," she said.

According to the Invest in France Agency, China is the eighth-largest foreign investor in France with 31 investment projects in 2012. However, Chinese investment in France represents only 4 percent of the total foreign investment in the country, far behind the United States (23 percent) and Germany (16 percent).

Bilateral trade rose from $13.4 billion in 2003 to $51 billion in 2012, but France last year registered nearly 26 billion euros ($35.95 billion) in trade deficit with China.

Bermann said France sought to invest in China a very long time ago, so therefore there is much more French investment in China than Chinese investment in France. Such investment is very important for the Chinese economy because it provides more technological transfers.

"Now in Europe, we need to internationalize some companies in bid for better performances. And we have to attract Chinese investments to boost tourism and exports to China. For example, we do encourage investments in French agriculture since we have good food safety and it will provide more jobs and stimulate exports to China. It will contribute to a more balanced trade relationship," she said.

Xi's visit came less than one week after China and the European Union ended an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probe into EU wine exports. France is the world's biggest wine producer by value.

Bermann said there are always differences between countries, but dialogue and consultation are always the right way to resolve problems.

"We also have disagreements within Europe, and even with the US. It's normal. It's life. But dialogue is always the best way to find a solution and to overcome differences, so our dialogue with China is our priority," she said.

The ambassador also said France is "very much in favor" of a EU-China investment agreement, which had its first round of talks in January but is expected to be completed very soon.

"The agreement is important both for Europe and for China. All agreements concerning world trade issues take a long time but we support this agreement and we do hope to obtain the best results through negotiations," she said.

Zhou Wa contributed to this story.

Hot Topics