Hollande meets with Xi in Beijing


Fri, Apr 26, 2013 - Page 6

French President Francois Hollande arrived in Beijing yesterday on a trip aimed at boosting exports to China.

China agreed to buy 60 Airbus planes in a memorandum of understanding signed yesterday by French President Francois Hollande and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in front of reporters.

Hollande, who is the first Western leader to be received in the Chinese capital by Xi, was accompanied by a delegation of businesspeople hoping to increase their share of the fruits of China’s economic growth.

France accounts for just 1.3 percent of China’s foreign trade compared with about 5 percent for Germany and a trade deficit with China of 26 billion euros (US$34 billion) last year is seen in Paris as unsustainable.

However, reversing the trend will not be easy for a country that lacks Germany’s strength in the production of capital goods or an export-driven business culture.

Aides to Hollande believe the Chinese yuan is seriously undervalued and expect the issue to be raised during his two-day visit, albeit without much hope of significant progress.

In industrial terms, France’s highest-value cards are its share in the airplane maker Airbus and its nuclear expertise.

Hopes are high that French nuclear giant Areva and Chinese energy group CNNC will sign letters of intent on the construction of a nuclear waste treatment facility.

Automaker Renault hopes to progress negotiations on a proposed factory in Wuhan that would produce 150,000 vehicles per year.

France is also pushing for greater access to the Chinese market for its charcuterie, or cooked pork meat, producers.

Hollande touched down down in Beijing at about 9:50am.

The French president is expected to have three meetings with Xi, including a state banquet last night and a more intimate lunch today, along with their respective partners, Valerie Trierweiler and Peng Liyuan (彭麗媛).

For Hollande, beset by economic woes and the aftermath of a corruption scandal that forced his budget minister to resign, the trip is a break from domestic troubles.