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Urging China to Open Markets and Invest in Electric Vehicles: France’s Le Maire

The French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, has urged Chinese leaders to open their markets wider to foreign companies and advocated for investment in France’s electric car industry. This comes as France, the European Union’s second-largest economy, joins the United States in reviving economic talks with China amid concerns over Beijing’s increasing trade surpluses.

During his visit to Beijing, Le Maire also defended France’s controls on foreign access to technology after two Chinese citizens were investigated for possible smuggling of French-made processor chips with military uses to China and Russia.

Le Maire met with Vice Premier He Lifeng, Beijing’s top envoy on economic issues, following U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit. Both France and the U.S. are seeking to revive foreign investor interest in China, which has been on the decline. However, Beijing has not shown any signs of potential changes in its policies that are considered by its trading partners as violations of market-opening commitments.

The European Union is particularly working towards narrowing the trade deficit with China, which reached 396 billion euros ($432 billion) last year. Le Maire highlighted cosmetics, aerospace, and agriculture as potential areas for increased French exports.

In an interview, Le Maire emphasized the need to improve access to the Chinese market and strengthen the economic relationship between Europe and China. He also acknowledged China’s position as a major investor in electric vehicles and encouraged Chinese investments in France’s electric car industry.

The talks between France and China also touched on climate change cooperation, financing for developing countries, and nuclear power. Both countries agreed to establish a group to resolve a dispute over access to China’s market for cosmetics, which is a significant French export.

While the discussions were overshadowed by concerns over Russia’s actions in Ukraine and allegations of China aiding Moscow in evading Western sanctions, Le Maire did not discuss the war with Chinese officials. However, he expressed the importance of ending the conflict for the sake of global growth.

Le Maire also defended France’s controls on technology exports and foreign investment in high-tech industries. French authorities are currently investigating two Chinese citizens associated with a chip producer for possible charges of exporting chips to a Chinese armaments maker using forged documents. The French government is taking measures to protect its key technologies from foreign access.

Overall, France’s engagement with China highlights the importance of market access, foreign investment, and cooperation in key industries such as electric vehicles and climate change mitigation.

Perspective: France’s efforts to promote market access and investment in its electric car industry reflect the global competition to lead in sustainable transportation. As countries transition towards a greener future, partnerships and collaboration will play a crucial role in accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles and addressing climate change. By advocating for Chinese investment in France’s electric car sector, Le Maire recognizes the potential for mutually beneficial collaborations that can drive economic growth and contribute to the fight against global warming.

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