The deepening of cooperation between China and France will help boost the confidence of French companies in the world's second-largest consumer market, and more importantly, inject greater vitality into global economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to French government officials and leading company executives.
"The current international situation is indeed somewhat complicated, but France will obviously opt for a more open stance when a choice is to be made between more trade protectionism and greater opening-up and liberalization," said French Ambassador to China Laurent Bili.
Bili said China was already the world's top market for French cosmetics exports last year, while France remains the leading supplier of wines to China.
"As shown, China will unswervingly expand high-level opening-up and continue to improve the level of trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, which will boost the confidence of French companies in the Chinese market," said Xavier Chatte-Ruols, deputy-director for Business France China.
The remarks were made on the sidelines of the second China International Consumer Products Expo held in Haikou, Hainan province, last week. France serves as the guest country of honor at this year's CICPE.
"As Chinese consumers have grown into one of the consumer groups with the highest standards worldwide, French products, especially consumer goods, are also getting increasingly popular in the country," he said.
Chatte-Ruols emphasized that the strengthening cooperation between the two economies will "help boost confidence and inject vitality into the economic development across the world".
According to the General Administration of Customs, China's total trade with France hit a record high of over $80 billion last year.
At this year's expo in Hainan, a total of 50 leading French companies, including food company Danone, cosmetics giant Pierre Fabre and cosmetics firm Caudalie, participated. France also topped other countries in terms of the number of exhibiting brands at the expo.
"Like many French companies, Danone has full confidence in the Chinese market. China is already Danone's second-largest market worldwide," said Qin Peng, president of Danone China.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Danone established a new open scientific research center in Shanghai, and companies focusing on special nutrition in Qingdao and Changsha.
"Danone is striving to combine century-old scientific research technologies with China's needs, and at the same time, beef up the localization strategy of 'Created in China, Made in China'," Qin said.
Husband and wife duo Bertrand and Mathilde Thomas, founders of French skin brand Caudalie, have been attaching great importance to the strategic position of the Chinese market. The country has become one of the most important overseas markets for Caudalie since the company's establishment.
A group of French companies said they are upbeat about the prospects and development potential of the Chinese market, where they will expand investment.
Mark Lu, president of fashion and lifestyle brand Daniel Hechter Greater China, disclosed the company's plans to expand its Chinese retail network from the current 80 stores to 200 stores within three years.
The company will also open two more outlets in the country's largest duty-free shopping complex in Haikou later this year, adding its presence in Hainan to 10 outlets, Lu said.