Reform and opening-up unleash new opportunities to boost bilateral ties
China's new round of reform and opening-up, and consumption upgrade will create new opportunities in niche sectors including high-tech waste recycling, quality control, food safety, medical processes and fintech, areas where French companies have proven technological expertise, a senior French business leader said on Friday.
In addition to enhancing bilateral cooperation in traditional sectors such as aeronautics, agribusiness, luxury goods and aerospace industries, the future of China-France business ties will also be enriched by both sides' surging demand in service sector, regional connectivity and people-to-people exchanges, said Christophe Lauras, president of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China, or CCI France Chine.
"We welcome China's newly released negative lists, which were shortened to introduce greater opening-up," said Lauras, adding the move will create a flexible environment for French companies to invest and grow in China, and the upcoming second China International Import Expo in Shanghai will be a positive showcase to encourage more imports from France.
Negative lists identify sectors in which foreign participation is restricted. Announced on June 30, China's latest negative lists will take effect on July 30 for nationwide implementation, data from the Ministry of Commerce show.
Bilateral trade between China and France amounted to $31.62 billion in the first half of 2019, jumping 9.3 percent year-on-year. France, in the meantime, remained China's fourth-largest trade partner after Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands within the European Union, data from the General Administration of Customs show.
China exports mainly construction machinery, manufacturing equipment, steel, electronics, textiles, garments and household appliances to France. In addition to passenger vehicles and aircraft, water treatment, chemical and pharmaceutical products, France's exports to China also include fashion, agricultural and energy infrastructure products.
Despite facing a complex global economic situation with the growth of protectionism, Lauras said that unilateralism is never a good thing, for anyone. It creates an unstable environment that does not benefit any business, including French companies.
"We are vocal advocates of peaceful and fair trade, in the respect of the development and prosperity of all people from all nations," said Lauras, noting both France and Europe are having a frank and friendly conversation with China to ensure a holistic approach to the Belt and Road Initiative so that multilateralism can be ensured.
Many French companies specializing in logistics, construction and transport technologies have already participated in the infrastructure development generated by the BRI, as many Chinese and French companies are working hand in hand in developing a number of urbanization projects in Africa, said Lauras, who also is vice-president for operations of Accor China.
China's proposal to explore third-party market cooperation could bring benefits to European countries participating in the BRI development, without causing a clash of interests. Projects involving China, France and some French-speaking African countries are a case in point, said Sang Baichuan, director of the Institute of International Business at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
Eager to deepen their cooperative level, the Chinese embassy in France announced in January that China and France are expected to jointly launch several projects on infrastructure and ecology in the coming years under the BRI framework.
Established in 1992, the French chamber's membership comprises a network of more than 1,603 member companies and organizations across China. It helps French companies to develop businesses in China, as well as to inform and guide Chinese companies wishing to invest in France.