The French government has toughened its stance with regard to future free trade agreements, saying it will lobby strongly at European Union (EU) level to improve France's competitiveness.
Minister for External Trade Nicole Bricq has said that France will attempt to impose four conditions on the EU when negotiating future Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
First, France will consult French companies to determine whether a new FTA would have positive outcomes in terms of employment. Otherwise, France would oppose any new FTA.
Secondly, France will require that a new FTA is based on reciprocity. By “reciprocity”, this should involve a much wider interpretation, which would go well beyond tariffs. In particular, France will pay specific attention to intellectual property.
Third, Bricq has said that France would require future FTAs to disallow social and environmental 'dumping', through the implementation of high standards in these areas.
France would also ask for “effective and quick” transitional regimes to safeguard sensitive sectors.
Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici has written that the government's policy is to “promote a fair and ordered globalization, based on rules shared by everyone”. Moreover, he said that “a European trade policy based on reciprocity and balanced trade agreements must contribute to this”.
This coincides with the recent fierce lobbying by Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg against the recent EU-South Korea FTA, backed by European car manufacturers body ACEA.
Montebourg and the ACEA have pointed at discriminatory South Korean non-tariff restrictions, such as very specific safety and anti-pollution regulations. Montebourg has criticized the “unacceptable dumping” that Korean car manufacturers Hyundai and Kia benefit from.
Montebourg had already said last month that “Europe can be open, but it must not be given away”..
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