The trade policy of the French government


In his speech at Sorbonne University on September 26, 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron took a stand in favor of an open Europe that protects and knows how to promote the economic interests of companies and ensure respect for our interests and respect for trade rules. international.

The Government therefore supports a balanced commercial policy which ensures access for French companies to foreign markets but preserves collective sensitivities and preferences. To ensure the conditions for fair competition and reciprocity in the opening of markets, France is also working with the Council to strengthen its trade defense and protect its strategic sectors by raising its anti-dumping duties and improving its control of foreign investments.

With the action plan of October 25, 2017 relating to the EU-Canada comprehensive trade agreement (CETA), the government has also made new commitments to better respond to environmental issues, improve the transparency of negotiations and strengthen the protection of sectors. sensitive.

Ensuring access for French companies to growth markets

In a global market marked by the growing interconnection of markets and the establishment of global supply chains, it is essential to ensure access for French companies to foreign markets in order to develop their exports, ensure outlets for their products and help them stay competitive. In addition to large companies, the idea is to improve the access of small and medium-sized companies to growing markets by removing tariff and non-tariff barriers (standards, administrative procedures).

Given the difficulties of multilateral negotiations at the WTO, this market access increasingly involves bilateral or regional agreements. The European Union has set up a very large network of regional preferential agreements throughout the world. Initially focused on its neighbors and development partners, the European Union’s trade policy underwent a strategic turning point in 2006, with the implementation of the Global Europe strategy and the negotiation of “new generation” trade agreements of wider (services, public procurement, non-tariff barriers).

This policy has resulted in the conclusion of several recent agreements: South Korea (2009), Singapore (2012), Colombia and Peru (2012), the CETA agreement with Canada (concluded in 2016, entered into force provisionally in September 2017) and the Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan (entered into force on February 1, 2019). Negotiations are underway with Chile, Mexico and Mercosur, Australia and New Zealand.

The impact of these agreements has shown that they are important levers for growth and employment. Since the conclusion of a trade agreement with South Korea, EU exports to South Korea have increased by 60% and a trade surplus of €3.1 billion was recorded in 2016.

Finding a balance between openness and protection

France is very careful that the agreements do not weaken the sectors and that they comply with the agricultural policy conducted at European level.

France therefore defends, alongside its partners, provisions guaranteeing fair competition and also encourages the introduction of safeguard clauses or adjustment mechanisms so as not to destabilize the most vulnerable sectors.

France also defends the proposals for monitoring agreements to guarantee real reciprocity by ensuring that our trading partners respect the commitments they have made so that our companies can fully benefit from the opening of markets. The conclusions of the European Council of 21 and 22 March 2019 call for the resumption of discussions within the Council on the international instrument on public procurement, which should guarantee reciprocity of access for public procurement. France has also proposed to strengthen the monitoring functions of the agreements and their compliance and to create a European commercial prosecutor responsible for ensuring compliance with these commitments.

France has also worked with the Council to strengthen its trade defense by modernizing instruments and overhauling anti-dumping methods. As a result of these efforts, a regulation on the screening of foreign direct investments entered into force on April 10, 2019, which aims to increase European involvement in terms of acquisition strategies in the approaches of state actors.

Growing social and environmental demands

Since 2006, the European Union has included a sustainable development chapter in its trade agreements introducing cooperation between the parties on issues related to the protection of employees and the preservation of the environment. These provisions oblige partners to respect the main international agreements of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and environmental agreements. They also oblige partners to refrain from relaxing social and environmental regulations to attract investors.

However, in light of the debates around the conclusion of CETA, President Macron has committed to answering questions providing scientific information to clarify its impact in terms of sustainable development. This commitment was kept with the report delivered by the Schubert Commission on September 8, 2017. The French Government wished to follow up on all the conclusions of the report by preparing this action plan which will accompany the implementation of CETA in three areas :

  • an exemplary implementation of CETA,
  • the establishment of an ambitious partnership with Canada in terms of the environment,
  • greater attention to sustainable development in future Union agreements.

France therefore now advocates the introduction of binding provisions on sustainable development in Brussels, non-compliance with which may be the subject of a dispute settlement mechanism.

France also defends efforts to make adherence to the Paris agreement and compliance with its legal obligations the subject of an essential clause in future agreements. The objective of this very ambitious proposal is to be able to terminate the agreement in the event of termination of the Paris Agreement and to have an additional lever to fight against climate change. This objective was reaffirmed during the first Ecological Defense Council on May 23, 2019.

Improve transparency

The CETA action plan also aims to make the negotiations more transparent, which is a central objective of President Macron.

Its main objective is to involve civil society and Parliament more closely and to provide better information on the negotiations and their impact.

The Trade Policy Monitoring Committee, which the Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs meets regularly, intends to play a key role. Bringing together members of civil society (non-governmental organisations, trade unions, professional organisations) and parliamentarians, it is a unique forum for dialogue where major current issues can be discussed and consultations with interested stakeholders before and during negotiations. . As a result, their positions, proposals and interests can then be taken into account as soon as possible.

Updated: June 2019


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