French companies to step up investment in China

Updated: April 10, 2024 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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PARIS, April 9 (Xinhua) -- Leading French companies are set to invest more in China, it emerged at business talks held in Paris this week.

"We'd like to invest (in China) more than we do now, even though we've been investing several billion yuan every year for the past 40 years," said Patrick Charignon, EDF Renewables vice-president for Asia-Pacific, at the round table on Monday.

China and EDF, France's leading electric utility company, began cooperating in the 1990s, starting with projects in nuclear power generation. From there, the collaboration was extended to renewable energy production, transmission, and distribution grids.

"China, with its immense ambitions in terms of energy transition, and as the world leader in decarbonized energy production capacity, is obviously a very important market for EDF," said Charignon.

Chinese banks have also been supporting energy investment projects, he added. Supply chains "perfectly meet all the needs for making these investments", and domestic and foreign capital are equally treated by the authorities.

"Be assured of our determination to continue, and even accelerate, our investments in China in coming years," he said.

For Marc Prikazsky, CEO of French animal health company Ceva, "China isn't just for very, very large groups. Mid-sized companies like us can also develop well there."

Ceva entered China in 2002, and has set up two production bases in Beijing and Zhejiang.

The company also has partnerships with several Chinese universities to carry out technological innovation projects.

Gilles Barissat, founder and chairman of the International Private Equity Market (IPEM), said he wanted to encourage small and medium-sized European companies to do business in China.

Barissat told Xinhua that he plans to take around 50 European companies, mostly high-techs, to China in November when Shanghai hosts the seventh edition of the China International Import Expo. IPEM launched its first China Forum in Wuxi, a city near Shanghai, last November.

"We are optimistic, we are courageous and we believe in China," he said. "China is developing. It's only natural that European enterprises and Chinese companies grow together."

Representatives from a dozen French companies, including TotalEnergies, Veolia, Seqens, Galeries Lafayette and Valode & Pistre, joined the round table, which was organized by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

"Cross-investment is not simply a financial transaction, but also a symbol of cooperation, innovation and strategic partnership," said Emmanuelle Peres, Director-general of Prospective & Innovation Foundation.

Recalling that 2024 marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and China, Peres said she hopes to see the two countries "fully exploit the potential of their human capital, technological capital and financial resources to create added value and stimulate economic growth." 

Editor: Li Shimeng