The Mighty Sarko, Live from Beijing

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 11/25/2007 04:40:00 PM
After doing what his predecessors had been unable to do by subduing militant labor unions at home, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has headed for China to meet with the Middle Kingdom's political-economic powers that be. Unsurprisingly, it's also a trade promotion trip by Sarkozy with many heads of French "national champions" in tow:
Nicolas Sarkozy...will press leaders in Beijing to sign contracts with Areva SA, Airbus SAS and Alstom SA, aiming to narrow a widening trade deficit and spur exports...

``The only area where he'll achieve something is with the contracts,'' said Valerie Niquet, director of the Asia center at the French Institute for International Relations in Paris. ``Given China's growing importance in global economic and strategic matters, there will be more contentious issues...''

France's trade deficit with China, including Hong Kong, widened 28 percent in the first nine months to 13.1 billion euros ($19.5 billion), according to the French Trade Ministry. French goods represent 1.4 percent of Chinese imports, compared with a more than 4 percent for German products. Chinese products represent 5.8 percent of French imports.

The French president will be accompanied by three dozen corporate leaders [36 nat-champs!], including Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive officer of Areva, Louis Gallois, CEO of Airbus parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., and Patrick Kron, CEO of Alstom, a Paris-based power-station and train maker.

Areva, the world's largest builder of nuclear reactors, hopes to win contracts worth 7 billion euros to build two European pressurized water nuclear reactors, or EPRs, for China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co., and to supply uranium for several Chinese nuclear plants, Chief Financial Officer Alain- Pierre Raynaud said in a telephone interview on Nov. 20.

Contracts are also pending for an order of Airbus planes and Alstom power turbines. China plans to order 100 to 150 Airbus planes, with 100 belonging to the A320 family, La Tribune reported today, without saying where it got the information.

Airbus, the world's largest commercial-aircraft maker, is building a factory in Tianjin, eastern China, its first final assembly plant outside Europe. Alstom this year bought a majority stake in Wuhan Boiler Co. to expand there...

After the sight-seeing trip to Xian, best known for its thousands of terra cotta warriors and horses dating back to the third century B.C., Sarkozy will attend a dinner with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing the same day. He also meets Hu and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Nov. 26 before traveling to Shanghai on Nov. 27.

Prior to meeting with Hu, Sarkozy is already making noises to the effect that "a great nation should have a great currency." Will the mighty Sarko get China to move on the yuan in a way that Bush & Co. haven't? Probably not as he's been somewhat more effective at home, but there's no harm in trying:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said China must let its currency appreciate against the euro and other currencies to prevent creating trade ``imbalances'' that might crimp global economic growth.

``A great country must have a strong currency,'' Sarkozy said today at a conference organized by the French chamber of commerce in Beijing. ``China has a great role to play, in concert with other players, not to let imbalances accumulate to a point where we wouldn't be able to get out of them,'' he said.

``Global harmony, which is dear to China, must translate into a fair balance between large currencies, whether it is the dollar, the euro, the yen or the yuan,'' the French president said on the first day of a three-day state visit in China, after an earlier dinner with Chinese President Hu Jintao.