Watch François Bayrou: “In many sectors, France has an economy of underdeveloped countries” – Google France Actualités

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Watch François Bayrou: “In many sectors, France has an economy of underdeveloped countries”

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Posted on Dec. 2021 at 6:30

In your new note, you are alarmed by the evolution of the trade balance deficit …

France’s foreign trade has not stopped collapsing for twenty years. Every year, we see abysmal deficits, in the order of 76 billion, while Germany has posted a surplus of some 200 billion euros in recent years.

The situation is all the more unacceptable as it is paradoxical. It is easy to understand that countries that are technologically overwhelmed or lack investment capacity find themselves in this situation. But a large country like France, which knows how to manufacture rockets, satellites, planes, helicopters, ships, submarines, weapon systems, remarkable cars, which is or was at the cutting edge in chemistry or in pharmacy, should not accept to be marginalized in so many consumer sectors.

For thirty years, plans have followed one another. In vain. What do you concretely propose to redress the bar?

Plans, no doubt, but which did not work, the proof! It is because we have not been able to share this objective of reconquest with all the available forces. Public actors, the State, local communities and private actors, large and medium-sized enterprises, must be gathered around the table to define a common proactive strategy that is followed over time. We must organize an offensive and for that to start from the analysis, item by item, of the French trade deficit.

In the note published by the Planning Commission, we identified more than 900 positions with a trade deficit exceeding 50 million euros. On some, we will not be able to do anything: we no longer have hydrocarbons for example in our basement, Lacq’s time has ended.

But on all accessible fields, we must lead the battle. In the sectors where we have the technological capacities and the actors available, we must mobilize them and set, by call for tenders, objectives and deadlines. And in those where France no longer has an industrial base, we can imagine that the reconquest involves equity investments and joint ventures with foreign companies for the purpose of relocation.

You also talk about agriculture. What are the sectors in which France must mobilize as a priority?

France, which has the most fertile land in Europe and considerable agronomic expertise, has retreated in agriculture. The foreign trade in this sector is only positive because, fortunately, of wines and spirits. In many of these sectors, we have an economy of an underdeveloped country. We export the raw materials and we are sold the processed products. This is the case for wood, for potatoes. These are areas where we can associate the productive fabric and the State, which must be a federator and a strategist.

France’s trade deficit with euro-zone countries continues to grow. How do you explain it?

For a long time, there was the idea that France did not have the same opportunities as the others: higher labor costs, lower investment capacity, wealth tax. Today, it is on a par with other countries. This is a great achievement in recent years! But we need to better organize the fighting forces.

In his book “An Eternal Sun”, Bruno Le Maire writes that he could well see himself recovering the supervision of foreign trade currently exercised by the Quai d’Orsay. Do you think this is a good idea?

Yes. I am convinced that our organization can be redesigned in a much more efficient and much better coordinated way.

Can France still reindustrialize?

Yes, and this is both the right time and the last moment. We are living in a time of technological change. With robotization, we can access production methods that put us on a par with distant countries at lower costs. The green transition can be a huge opportunity for France, thanks to its carbon-free electricity production. The same is true for the digital transition.

Are the France Relance and France 2030 plans likely to improve French positions?

France 2030 and France Relance are going in the right direction. But we must go further both from the point of view of commitment and method. Public money will not be enough. Strategies must be found to direct private money towards productive investment.

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