French President Francois Hollande said yesterday that the European Union must work with China, and called for a balanced resolution to an escalating trade dispute that began with solar panels but has since spread to European wines and cars.
Speaking at a conference with Japanese business representatives in Tokyo, Hollande said France's goal was to sell more products to the Chinese but that there needed to be clear ground rules and more co-operation.
"We need to work with China … to develop our economies but also to define rules, principles and to open new areas of co-operation," Hollande said.
"We need to resolve our trade problems with China through discussion, without advantages being given to one country over another."
Beijing has launched an anti-dumping inquiry into European wine sales, seen as a retaliatory move after the EU moved to impose duties on Chinese solar panels. The move sparked outrage in France, which accounted for more than half of the total annual US$1 billion volume of EU wine exported to mainland China last year.
Now there are worries that the tit-for-tat dispute will spread to the car sector. Europe's official car industry association said on Friday that Beijing might look into a complaint about luxury cars imported from the EU.
"I want the Chinese to buy more French products," Hollande said. "It is up to us to be more competitive and to convince the Chinese that there can be reciprocity."