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French President Emmanuel Macron says China needs to open its doors wider to foreign businesses. Photo: AFP

‘No one wins a trade war’: French President Emmanuel Macron points to common ground with China on tariffs and climate action

  • But Beijing still needs to open the door wider to foreign businesses, Macron says
France and China have found common ground on climate change and trade but Beijing still needs to open the door wider to foreign companies, according to French President Emmanuel Macron.

Addressing the China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Tuesday, Macron said he hoped China and the United States could reach an agreement to ease the trade tensions between the two economies, adding that protectionist trade practices hurt the global economy.

“No one wins a trade war,” he said.

“Our trade practices do not provide an effective safeguard for the world economy. Should we just give up on such a trade order and resort to unilateralism and tariffs or the law of the jungle? Is that the way forward? I don’t think so. That is not the choice of France or the European Union.”

Macron called on China to do more to open up its economy to foreign businesses.

“We need a greater openness of China and its domestic market,” he said. “All French, German and European companies expect a lot of China’s promises here.”

Europe ‘pushed off Beijing’s radar’ in China’s drive to seal US trade deal

Macron also promised “decisive” cooperation between China and France on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It comes after the administration of US President Donald Trump filed paperwork on Monday to start the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, a commitment to cut emissions to cap global temperature rises.

A French presidential office official expressed regret at the US move, and said Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping would reaffirm their commitment to the Paris Agreement.

“We regret this and this only makes the Franco-Chinese partnership on the climate and biodiversity more necessary,” the official said.

Macron said compliance with the Paris Agreement would require new reduction commitments for 2030 and 2050.

“The cooperation between China and the European Union in this respect is decisive,” he said. “Next year, we need, in the agenda of enhancement, to be collectively up to the task.”

In his keynote address to the expo, Xi said China would “deliver on what we have promised”, and give greater market and investment opportunities to foreign companies.

Xi and Macron visited the French pavilion at the expo together on Tuesday and will sit down for formal talks in Beijing on Wednesday.

China will open market further in push to bring down global trade barriers, Xi Jinping tells import expo

During Macron’s trip, France and China are expected to sign 40 deals, ranging from agriculture to finance.

The French president said an agreement on geographical indicators, which would give French agricultural exports to China, including wines, greater protection, was also expected to be signed between the EU and China by Wednesday.

But there are question marks over whether Macron will raise sensitive political issues with Xi, including the mass detention of Uygurs in Xinjiang and the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

Last month, after the EU released a statement denouncing violence in Hong Kong, China’s embassy in Paris called France “hypocritical”, given the clashes in France between anti-government “yellow vest” protesters and police.

Zhu Jing, a European affairs official at the Chinese foreign ministry, said Hong Kong and Xinjiang were internal affairs and not relevant to the diplomatic agenda.

Additional reporting by Reuters and Agence France-Presse