China-France Economic Deals
Emmanuel Macron was the first European head of state to meet with Xi Jinping after the beginning of his third term, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was the first EU head of government to meet with Xi in December 2022, followed by Charles Michel, President of the European Council, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, and now European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
During the Beijing meetings, France and China signed 18 agreements in various areas of cooperation, such as aviation, space, nuclear and renewable energy, technological innovation, culture, and sports, about the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
China confirmed its support for France's organization of the United Nations Ocean Conference for 2025 and welcomed Paris's participation in the third Forum for International Cooperation on the Belt and Road for 2023.
Among the most important agreements is Airbus, which doubles the production capacity of A320 jets at the Tianjin factory, announcing the development of a second assembly line to meet the domestic purchase of 160 new aircraft. Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury signed the agreement during the visit of the French and European delegations.
Airbus also signed a memorandum with China National Aviation Fuel Group to increase cooperation on sustainable aviation fuels. China is the aviation market with the fastest growth and has developed its commercial jet, the C919, similar to the A320, which is preparing to be commercialized, but Airbus's fleet in China has surpassed 2,100 aircraft, representing more than half of the market.
L'Oreal has signed a three-year partnership with Alibaba and is considering acquiring Aesop, the Australian luxury brand, which reported sales of USD 537 million in 2022, with significant growth in particular on the Chinese market.
Électricité de France has signed agreements with China Energy Investment Corporation in the wind energy sector and with China General Nuclear Power Group for the construction of new nuclear power plants.
The French company Suez has signed a contract for a seawater desalination project, and Agricultural Bank of China President Gu Shu has met with BNP Paribas President Jean Lemierre to promote cooperation agreements between the two banks in domestic and foreign markets.
France had a trading volume with China of USD 81 billion in 2022, the third European partner after Germany and the Netherlands and the second exporter after Berlin with USD 5.6 million of exports to China.
While Macron gathered contracts for the largest French industrial groups, Ursula von der Leyen reiterated the disparity in commercial conditions applied by Beijing, highlighting the trade deficit and the problems with the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment frozen since 2020.
Brussels is China's second-largest trading partner, with USD 847 billion in trade in 2022, of which USD 562 billion was in imports and USD 285 billion in exports, second only to ASEAN, which aggregates Southeast Asian countries with USD 957 billion in trade, and ahead of the United States, which recorded USD 759 billion in goods and services bought and sold with China in 2022.