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Macron secures access to Chinese markets

January 9, 2018

From high-end wine to the new "Silk Road," France and China have agreed to enhance economic relations. For Beijing, that meant providing French companies better access to Chinese markets.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping
Image: Reuters/L. Marin

Macron travels China's New Silk Road

French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday signed several agreements worth billions of euros, spanning strategic sectors of industry, including trade, art and energy.

The series of agreements aim to "rebalance" the €30 billion ($36 billion) trade deficit France has with Beijing by providing reciprocal access to Chinese markets.

Read more: France's Emmanuel Macron starts China visit in Silk Road gateway city of Xian

Strategic access

  • Xi said both countries will work together on the One Belt, One Road — also known as the new "Silk Road" project — after Macron endorsed the infrastructure project worth more than €1 trillion.
  • Under the series of agreements, China has agreed to drop a 16-year-old embargo on French beef within six months and allow Chinese retailer JD.com to sell high-end French wine and cognac, a deal worth more than €2 billion.
  • French energy giant Areva and its Chinese counterpart CNNC signed a deal to jointly build a nuclear waste management facility worth €10 billion.
  • Macron said the Pompidou Center in Paris, home to the world's second-largest collection of modern art, reached a deal to open a gallery in Shanghai.

Macron: Silk Road must be 'two-way street'

'Restart our cooperation'

Macron endorsed China's massive infrastructure project aimed at establishing strategic land and sea trade routes, saying: "Historically, the Silk Road … was a road to communicate, to exchange; it was a road that bound Asia and Europe together. We should restart our cooperation and exchange."

Read more: How Donald Trump is bringing the EU and China closer together

Xi said the new "Silk Road" project "doesn't belong to just one country," but instead "reflects the Chinese vision of global governance."

But Macron urged China to offer the EU greater access to domestic markets, saying: "If we don't deal with this responsibly, the first, natural reaction will be to close up on both sides."

Macron was given a warm welcome, being offered a rare change to review a Chinese honor guard
Macron was given a warm welcome, being offered a rare change to review a Chinese honor guardImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Schiefelbein

What else did the agreements cover: France and China also agreed to engage in exchanges on artificial intelligence, sustainable development and green finance.

How long will it take to finish the new 'Silk Road': The project is expected to be completed by 2049. It is estimated to cost between €4 trillion to €8 trillion, with some estimates saying it could cost even more.

What happens next: Since the agreements were "memorandums of understanding," it is expected that France and China will make good on their word. But they are not concrete deals, which means the agreements could change going forward.

ls/rt (AFP, dpa)

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