New silk roads: Philippe calls for projects “transparent”

The French Prime minister Edouard Philippe at Brussels, 20 June 2018 (Photo JOHN THYS. AFP)

Edouard Philippe pleaded Saturday for infrastructure projects from the initiative chinese of the “New silk roads” to be “transparent” so that French companies “can participate”, during a visit to the deep water port of Shanghai.

After being presented with a terminal fully automated this port’s “impressive” where have transited in 2017, $ 750 million tons of goods, the Prime minister underlined the”considerable challenge for Europe, for France, to be at the heart of the trafficking routes maritime world”.

Aboard the Theodore Roosevelt, a giant container of French group CGA CGM, the former mayor of le Havre is well back on the initiative of the New silk road ” (also called “One belt, one road”), roughly estimated at 1000 billion dollars, and which aims in particular to build lines of communication, road, rail and sea anywhere in the world in order to facilitate trade with China.

“The silk roads, it is a vision of organization and development of maritime traffic. From this point of view, this is obviously a very good project, we accompany him,” said Mr. Philip.

“But we hope that it can be transparent, that the whole of the French companies which are interested may participate. We also hope that it fits into the logic (…) of the Paris Agreement, that is to say, a world trade that is more respectful of issues of protection of the climate,” he continued, referring also to issues of “financial sustainability”.

This initiative chinese raises the question of the political ambition of the country, with each project being as much a tool of soft power, defining a vision of globalization to the chinese. Europe is still seeking a unified response on the matter, while some countries of eastern Europe, Hungary in the lead, have signed a memorandum of agreement with China.

“The challenge is to have a common position. The more we are united, the more we are strong (…) and the more we are heard,” urged Mr. Philippe, whose visit is concurrent with the one in Beijing, the Vice-president of the european Commission Jyrki Katainen.

More generally, Mr Philip called for a “rebalance” of trade with Beijing, while China is the first trade deficit for France (30 billion euros in 2017).

Progress is expected with the emergence imminent embargo on French beef, in force since 2001. “I am very hopeful that we can move forward quickly and in very good conditions”, said Mr Philip.

The visit of Mr. Philippe has finally been given an opportunity to sign a cooperation agreement between the port of Marseille and Shanghai that focuses on the exchange of experiences and good practices, particularly in the area of energy transition, impact of the maritime economy on the environment, and promotion of the circular economy.

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