Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron signed a range of deals worth billions of Euros on Monday, although the latter pushed back against Beijing’s proposed ‘Belt and Road’ infrastructure initiative.
During Xi Jinping’s visit to France on Monday, the two sides signed 15 separate deals worth €40 billion (US$45 billion), including an order for 300 of France’s Airbus planes, matching a similar purchase he made of 300 Boeing aircraft from the U.S. during his visit to Washington last November. Other deals everything from the renewable energy sector to shipping and banking, while Xi also agreed to lift China’s embargo on French poultry.
However, Macron was unwilling to sign up to China’s ambitious ‘Belt and Silk Road’ initiative, citing concerns that it would not benefit the French economy and increase their own trade deficit with the world’s second-largest economy.
“Europe must be united and have a coherent message,” Macron said at a joint press conference following their talks at the Elysee Palace. “That’s what we are doing on strategic investment.”
Macron’s refusal to sign up to the ‘Belt and Road’ came just a day after Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte agreed to sign Italy up to the initiative, further exacerbating the divide between Macron’s globalist vision and Italy’s populist administration.
“Our goal with these accords is to start to rebalance an imbalance for which there is a lot of ‘Made in China’ coming to Italy and too little ‘Made in Italy’ that goes to China,” Italy’s Minister for Economic Development Luigi Di Maio said. “We now expect a substantial and gradual increase of exports and we hope that in the next years we can balance out the trade imbalances.”
Following his meetings with Macron, President Xi argued that such initiatives would benefit all parties and lead to “win-win outcomes.”
“China is willing to work with France to inherit the past and create the future, enable our close and enduring comprehensive strategic partnership to continue leading the way, and make more historic contributions to building an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity,” he said.
“Under the new situation, the two sides should do much better in those three aspects, and continue to explore the way for major countries to get along with each other, which should feature independence, mutual understanding, foresight, mutual benefit, and win-win outcomes,” Xi continued. “In politics, we should not only build a strong ‘dam’ of mutual trust, but also a ‘lighthouse’ of ideal.”