France’s Le Maire: Trade detente is my priority for Biden administration

France’s Le Maire: Trade detente is my priority for Biden administration

©
Reuters.
French
PM
Castex
holds
COVID-19
news
conference

By
Christian
Lowe

PARIS
(Reuters)

French
Finance
Minister
Bruno
Le
Maire
said
on
Thursday
that
resolving
trade
sanctions
was
his
priority
with
the
incoming
U.S.
administration
in
order
to
keep
a
trade
war
from
adding
to
the
economic
pain
from
the
coronavirus
pandemic.

U.S.
President
Donald
Trump’s
administration
hit
France
with
tariff
duties
on
wine
after
failing
to
resolve
a
16-year
dispute
over
aircraft
subsidies
with
the
European
Union.
It
also
threatened
to
impose
tariffs
on
French
cosmetics,
handbags
and
other
imports
over
Paris’
digital
service
tax
on
big
internet
companies.

“The
consequences
of
trade
sanctions
on
our
economy
are
very
negative
and
very
detrimental.
We
already
have
the
pandemic
crisis,”
Le
Maire
said
in
an
interview
at
the
Reuters
Next
conference.

“We
should
not
add
any
kind
of
difficulties
to
this
very
difficult
economic
situation.
A
trade
war
is
not
in
the
interests
of
the
U.S.
and
not
in
the
interest
of
Europe.”

Le
Maire
said
that
he
had
received
no
“initial
signals”
from
the
Biden
administration
about
how
it
would
deal
with
trade,
but
that
he
hoped
to
visit
Washington
in
February.

If
the
Biden
administration
gives
its
support,
Le
Maire
said
stalled
talks
among
nearly
140
countries
to
rewrite
the
rules
of
international
taxation
could
be
revived
at
the
Organisation
for
Economic
Co-operation
and
Development
(OECD)
and
wrapped
up
within
six
months.

Trade
tensions
with
Washington
have
added
to
the
clouds
hanging
over
the
French
economy
in
the
last
year,
as
it
was
already
struggling
with
its
deepest
downturn
since
World
War
II.

The
U.S.
government
this
week
began
collecting
new
duties
on
certain
non-sparkling
wines
as
well
as
cognacs
and
other
brandies
from
France,
adding
to
the
pressure
on
the
economy
as
it
struggles
with
a
slow
start
to
its
vaccination
programme.

UNCERTAIN
OUTLOOK

Despite
a
weak
start
to
the
year,
Le
Maire
said
that
his
forecast
for
6%
growth
in
2021
remained
within
reach
and
that
he
was
confident
of
a
strong
recovery
in
the
second
half
of
the
year.

“We
have
to
remain
humble
and
cautious
because
we
have
been
fooled
by
the
virus
many
times,”
he
said,
adding
that
he
was
not
worried
about
the
initially
slow
roll-out
of
the
COVID-19
vaccine
in
France.

Though
the
crisis
has
left
France
with
a
record
level
of
debt,
equivalent
to
more
than
120%
of
economic
output,
Le
Maire
said
the
time
to
reduce
it
would
only
come
after
the
crisis
is
over.

While
debt
reduction
would
require
on
the
one
hand
the
return
of
economic
growth,
he
said
it
would
also
need
reforms
like
an
unpopular
pension
overhaul
that
got
shelved
at
the
start
of
the
pandemic.

While
acknowledging
that
public
spending
would
eventually
need
to
be
reined
in,
he
said
that
France’s
2024
Olympic
Games
must
go
on.

“People
also
need
dreams
and
I
think
that
the
Olympic
Games
are
a
dream
that
can
have
a
very
positive
effect
on
the
French
population,”
he
said.

For
more
coverage
from
the
Reuters
Next
conference
please
click
here
or
www.reuters.com/business/reuters-next

To
watch
Reuters
Next
live,
visit
https://www.reutersevents.com/events/next/register.php


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