Only small deals for France in Beijing, but a more united EU front could be coming


French President Emmanuel Macron wrapped up a three-day visit to China with moderate outcomes, including a few business deals, as the South China Morning Post notes:

  • “A deal between French engineering firm Fives and Chinese online retail giant to set up a logistics center in France to source French food and luxury products for sale online in China.”
  • “ also agreed to sell €2 billion [$2.39 billion] worth of French products in the next two years, including high-end wine and cognac.”
  • The “lifting of a Chinese embargo on French beef,” according to Reuters.

But larger deals were left in unfinished form:

  • “Nuclear group Areva failed to finalize a decade of negotiations with a contract to build a fuel reprocessing plant, securing only another protocol agreement” (per Reuters).
  • “On the order for 184 A320s, it’s something that will be finalized shortly,” Macron said of a potential sale for aeronautics giant Airbus, Channel NewsAsia reports.
  • “Airbus signed a provisional deal on Tuesday to boost the number of A320 family jets assembled in Tianjin to six a month by 2020 from four at present” (per Channel NewsAsia).

Reuters says that the larger significance of the visit may be Macron’s calls for European unity in dealmaking with China. “Europe has often shown itself divided about China…and China won’t respect a continent, a power, when some member states let their doors freely open,” the French president said.

  • The EU ambassador to China seems to agree. Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, while calling for progress in bilateral investment treaty talks between the EU and China, emphasized, “There has never been any doubt that, obviously, completeness and the responsibilities of the EU have to be fully respected,” SCMP reports.
  • This comes amid increasing anxiety among EU leaders over China’s influence in Central and Eastern Europe.