Beijing, French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a vigorous defense of free trade at the opening of an import fair in Shanghai on Tuesday.
Macron argued for the need to address current imbalances brought on by globalization, such as increasing wealth disparities and challenges related to digitalization, Deutsche press agency (dpa) reported.
He said such imbalances have led to the rise of fear and self-protectionism around the world.
“What should we do facing such a trend of protectionism?” Macron said during his keynote speech following that of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening of the China International Import Expo fair.
“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.”
“No one wins a trade war,” Macron said, adding that the current trade tensions between major countries are hurting the global economy.
“We hope an agreement can be reached to ease the tensions and to uphold the interests of all the stakeholders starting with the European Union,” he said.
Macron is leading a business delegation on a three-day trip to China. He is also travelling with German Education Minister Anja Karliczek and EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Trade Phil Hogan, in an attempt to show Beijing that Europeans have a united front in their negotiations with China.
Macron said France wanted to see more openness in China’s economy, especially in areas such as agriculture. But he praised some of the steps Beijing has already taken to shrink a “negative list” of industries in which foreign investment is limited and lift restrictions on joint ventures between Chinese and foreign firms.
Xi repeated his pledges that “China will open its door only wider to the world.”
“The goal is to bring more impetus to economic globalization and remove impediments as much as we can,” he said in his keynote speech.
Later on Tuesday, Macron is set to have lunch with Chinese artists and open a Shanghai branch of Paris’ Centre Pompidou arts center, the first such branch outside Europe.
He will continue his visit on Wednesday in Beijing, where he and Xi are set to oversee the signing of commercial agreements and of a joint statement on climate and biodiversity issues.
Source: Bahrain News Agency