By Shang Kaiyuan, This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France.
Over the past 60 years, bilateral trade between the two countries has increased by over 800 times. Today, France is China’s third-largest trading partner in the European Union and the third-largest source of actual investment, while China is France’s largest trading partner in Asia and the seventh-largest globally.
The economic cooperation between China and France has not only contributed to the development of both countries’ economies and improved people’s well-being but also injected momentum into the global economic recovery.
In recent years, French delicacies such as Bordeaux wine, Charolais beef, Bonne Maman jam, and President cheese have become increasingly popular in China. Similarly, Chinese home appliances like Midea air fryers, Bear rice cookers, Haier refrigerators, Hisense televisions, and Xgimi projectors are gradually gaining recognition in France.
China and France have strong complementarity in terms of their economies, which creates immense potential for cooperation. China has a competitive advantage in manufacturing, electronic products, and machinery, while France excels in aerospace, nuclear energy, high-end consumer goods, agricultural products, and wines. This provides both countries with vast opportunities for trade and investment.
Soumia Malinbaum, president of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry and vice president of the Paris Île-de-France Chamber of Commerce and Industry, noted that the Chinese consumer market is vast, and China’s economic transformation and upgrading in recent years has brought new opportunities for the French consumer goods and services industry.
The French Pavilion at the previous sessions of the China International Import Expo (CIIE) has garnered immense popularity. France has been invited to serve as the Guest Country of Honor for the 2024 China International Fair for Trade in Service and the 7th CIIE.
“French companies are full of confidence in the Chinese market,” said French Ambassador to China Bertrand Lortholary.
According to statistics, by the end of 2021, over 6,000 French companies had been established in China, with a total investment of over $18 billion.
As China’s economy enters a stage of high-quality development and its industrial transformation and upgrading keeps advancing, the country is providing more development opportunities for French companies. In the past two years, many French enterprises have chosen to increase investment and expand their businesses in China.
In October 2022, international beauty giant L’Oreal officially laid the foundation for the world’s first self-built intelligent fulfillment center in Suzhou, east China’s Jiangsu province. In July 2023, the Chinese-French (Wuxi) Industrial Cooperation Park was inaugurated, with five key projects signed, totaling an investment of over $1 billion. In September 2023, Airbus broke ground on its second final assembly line for the A320 family aircraft in Tianjin municipality. In November 2023, Faurecia under Forvia officially inaugurated its new electronics mega plant in Fengcheng, Jiangxi province.
“Investing in China is investing in the future,” said Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman of L’Oreal.
According to a spring 2023 survey on French companies in China conducted by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in France, compared to the previous survey, member companies have shown an increased willingness to expand their businesses in China in the next three years. Forty-seven percent of them are planning to further invest in China, the survey said.
China has been the largest Asian country in terms of investment and job creation in France for three consecutive years. China’s total direct investment in France stands at nearly $4.9 billion. So far, Chinese investors have invested in over 900 French companies, employing over 50,000 local employees in France.
The Dongtai offshore wind power project, jointly invested and constructed by Chinese and French companies, has pioneered cooperation between Chinese and foreign enterprises in building offshore wind power projects in China.
In recent years, Schneider Electric has continuously increased its research and development investment in the Chinese market and has established five major R&D centers.
Alongside deepening cooperation in traditional fields, China and France have actively explored the potential for cooperation in emerging sectors such as green industries and clean energy. This not only promotes economic development and improves people’s well-being in both countries but also enhances confidence and stability in global economic recovery.
In terms of third-party markets, China and France are pioneers in exploring new models of international cooperation. The successful collaboration between China and France in operating the Kribi Deep Seaport in Cameroon serves as a shining example. The growth of port operations has not only significantly promoted the economic development of Cameroon but also benefited landlocked African countries such as the Central African Republic and Chad.
In February 2022, China and France signed a document on the list of the fourth-round demonstration projects of developing third-party market cooperation. The list includes seven projects worth over $1.7 billion, covering infrastructure, environmental protection, new energy, and others. These projects are launched in areas including Africa and Central and Eastern Europe.
French international affairs expert Bruno Guigue said the real driving force behind cooperation between the two countries is mutual respect, mutual trust, and the recognition of the other as a true partner.
He noted France and China must continue to strengthen their economic relations by striving to build more efficient supply chains.
“By joining hands and working together, France and China can achieve mutual benefits and win-win outcomes,” the expert added.