Chinese, French business leaders pledge to boost cooperation in Beijing
Updated 12:32, 10-Apr-2023
Feng Yilei

China's President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have agreed to safeguard the security and stability of industrial and supply chains, and to create a favorable environment for economic cooperation. The pledge came at the closing ceremony of the fifth meeting of the Council of China-France Entrepreneurs on Friday in Beijing.

Numerous agreements were signed at the event to strengthen cooperation among companies from the two countries. More than 100 entrepreneurs from renowned Chinese and French companies attended the event, reflecting the deepening economic and trade partnership. Over the past five years, bilateral trade between China and France has risen from $60 billion to $80 billion.

Director of the European Department at China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), Yu Yuantang, said China's modernization will provide new opportunities and an impetus for cooperation between Chinese and French enterprises, as well as China and Europe. He confirmed the MOFCOM would provide support for European companies to grow their presence in China and for Chinese companies investing in Europe.

"We welcome French entrepreneurs in firmly establishing confidence in cooperation with China, seizing opportunities, and planning for the long-term," said Yu.

"We also welcome Chinese entrepreneurs to further expand cooperation with France through the Council of China-France Entrepreneurs, complementing each other's advantages and jointly developing international markets."

Bank of China President Liu Jin, also the chairman of the Council of China-France Entrepreneurs, said Chinese and French institutions have established close cooperative relationships, providing comprehensive financial support for Sino-French enterprise-based collaboration.

Liu called on China and France to work together to grasp the financial opportunities made possible through sustainable development. He also suggested that joint efforts to be made to promote the role of the renminbi, or the yuan, in the two-way opening up of markets.

Liu stressed the importance of growing access to China's financial market and the deepening relationship between Chinese assets, the domestic and international markets, and the provision of more opportunities in asset allocation for global investors.

Cooperation between Chinese and French enterprises has expanded beyond traditional sectors including aviation and high-end consumption. It now covers civilian nuclear energy, aerospace, healthcare, agriculture and food production, as well as tourism and cultural exchanges.

L'Oréal boss Jean-Paul Agon, chairman of the France-China Committee, said bringing together major companies from both countries would further stimulate the economy. The French cosmetics company inked two new projects at the Beijing meeting – one with internet giant Alibaba, and a Big Bang project to support beauty tech startups in China.

"L'Oréal is a great example because we have developed business very strongly here," Agon said.

"By developing the business, we also develop consumption in China."

"We do a lot of work on construction industry standards and our cooperation with France is conducive to our technical upgrading", said Li Cundong, who heads the China Institute of Building Standard Design & Research, the largest construction standard research body in the country.

Li said the academy's cooperation with the French air filtration company Erlab would take ventilation and purification systems in China to a new level.

Chairman of China's Central South Architectural Design Institute, Li Ting, highlighted the mutual benefits of technological collaboration. The institute has partnered with French software company Dassault Systèmes to integrate French high-end manufacturing digital platforms into China's construction industry.

"It will help accelerate the coordinated development of intelligent construction and construction industrialization in China's construction industry, and contribute to its transformation and upgrading," Li added, emphasizing that China's construction industry offers a sizeable market for European enterprises.

On environmental cooperation between China and France, China CEO Alex Gregg-Smith said Bureau Veritas has signed a three-party memorandum of understanding to help companies and industry cut carbon emissions and certify reduction targets.

"This will actually provide benefits to both Europe, France, and China while allowing all of the companies in both countries to cooperate and help provide solutions to reduce their emissions," Gregg-Smith said.

An official with MOFCOM said China-Europe cooperation overcame multiple unfavorable challenges and achieved steady progress in 2022. Meetings and exchanges between China and France are expected to contribute to a closer and more durable comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries and play a vital role more broadly in the healthy development of Sino-European relations.

The Council of China-France Entrepreneurs, established in 2018, has become an important platform for promoting business cooperation between China and France.

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