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Friday, October 4, 2019

Economic Opportunities Take Centre Stage at China-France Investment Dialogue

October 4, 2019. Paris – The CEIBS Insights 5th Europe Forum 2019 China-France Investment Dialogue, co-organised by CEIBS, the Committee of Exchanges Between France and China (CEFC) of CCI Paris Ile-de-France, and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in France (CCICF), was held today at the Hôtel Potocki in Paris on the theme of Consumption Upgrade: A New Opportunity for China-France Economic Co-operation.

More than 300 representatives from both business and politics gathered for the event to explore new business opportunities in Franco-Chinese trade created by China’s strong growth in demand for consumer goods, as well as new avenues and guidelines for tapping into trade co-operation between the two countries in the current era of consumption. Recently appointed Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye also attended the forum, where he exchanged ideas with members of the French business community.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the 55th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between France and China. Paris has served as an important venue for numerous past CEIBS Insights Europe Forums and the events have made important contributions to promoting Franco-Chinese business co-operation and cultural exchanges. Adding to the significance of the China-France Investment Dialogue, this year’s event also coincides with CEIBS’ 25th anniversary celebration.

President of CCI Paris Île-de-France Didier Kling, Director-General of the Bank of China in France and President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in France Nhay Phan, and CEIBS President (European) Dipak Jain delivered welcome speeches at the event.

In his speech, Mr. Kling noted that in recent years Franco-Chinese relations have become increasingly close, and that entrepreneurs of the two countries have a strong willingness to communicate with each other. The event has a great importance, he added, as the economic and cultural exchanges at the forum would help enhance mutual understanding and trust, and aid in the mutual exploration of the path to co-operation.

Mr. Phan pointed out during his welcome address that the Chinese middle class is expanding and is expected to include 420 million people in the future. At the same time, he said, developments in areas such as mobile payment, e-commerce and fintech have brought about tremendous changes in China's consumer market. These changes, he added, will provide a broader space for co-operation between the French and Chinese business communities.

Professor Jain began his speech by stating that the goal of CEIBS is to move from success to excellence. In the future, he said, the school will continue to increase its visibility in the US, strengthen its operations in Europe and Africa, and shape and consolidate a harmonious cultural atmosphere, while enhancing its global reputation.

Chinese Ambassador to France Shaye Lu then delivered the opening keynote speech, in which he noted that CEIBS has been very active in promoting co-operation between France and China over the years. This year marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between France and China, he said, and the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries has entered a new era. Citing a strong willingness to co-operate, Ambassador Lu stated that he believes that a bright future for Franco-Chinese co-operation is assured. However, he added, to truly transform willingness into tangible results depends on the joint efforts of both sides. As such, he urged that France and China must work together to enhance the “golden content” of co-operation, foster new growth points for co-operation, and safeguard the positive image of Franco-Chinese co-operation.

In his keynote address, CEIBS Associate Dean (Research) and Professor of Economics and Finance Xu Bin analysed new changes and trends in China's macro-economy, as well as new opportunities brought about by these changes and trends. Included in these trends, he observed that China's per capita income is rising, and the service industry has become the country’s main driver of economic growth. At the same time, he said, China's R&D investment is on the rise, and its total R&D investment is now ranked second in the world. In addition, he pointed out that China's relatively weak financial and medical health fields represent a broad opportunity for foreign investment. When foreign investors invest in China, Prof. Xu advised, they need to take a long-term perspective and strengthen mutual trust with local enterprises in order to achieve more positive results.

Luxurynsight CEO Mr. Jonathan Siboni’s talk then analysed how companies develop in the international consumer market. During his presentation, Mr. Siboni stated that before entering a new market, overseas companies need to first understand the target market and consumers, and identify consumers’ concerns about their products. Even if companies do not plan to enter overseas markets, he said, it is still important to understand their own international consumers. Currently, he pointed out, there are about 150 million people traveling abroad each year in China, and understanding the consumer preferences and shopping habits of these groups of consumers is of great benefit to local companies.

The event also included a series of panel discussions, where French and Chinese business leaders and entrepreneurs shared their insights on the new path of Franco-Chinese economic and trade co-operation.

In the first panel, ICICLE Shanghai Fashion Group International Vice President and Executive Director Paris Isabelle Capron and LANVIN CEO Jean-Philippe HECQUET discussed new trends in the Chinese market and new opportunities for French and Chinese companies. First-and-foremost, the pair agreed that the Chinese consumer market is undergoing tremendous changes. On one hand, they noted, technological innovation has brought about a boom in mobile payments and e-commerce; while, on the other hand, local brands have grown quickly, especially in the fashion sector, and more Chinese brands will likely emerge in the future. As a result, they said, French and Chinese companies will have more opportunities to co-operate to achieve even greater breakthroughs.

The second panel, featuring Regional Agricultural Advisor for the Embassy of France in China Mr. François Blanc; President and CEO of Semmaris, Rungis Marché International Mr. Stéphane Layani; International Director of Saint Michel Biscuits Mr. Laurent Noppe; and CEO of Chic Group and CEIBS EMBA 2006 alumus Yanming Zhu, then explored the strategic path of foreign companies entering the Chinese market. The four panellists acknowledged that China's consumer market is changing with each passing day, and that Chinese local enterprises are rising rapidly. For foreign companies interested in entering the Chinese market, the group argued, they must learn quickly to understand the Chinese market and find reliable local partners. The most important thing, the panel concluded, is to have patience and grow in step with the Chinese market.

In the final panel, Director of European Partnerships of ALIPAY Jean-Cyrille GIRARDIN; Chief Brand & Communications Officer of Kenzo Mode (LVMH Group) Julie GOSALVEZ; La Samaritaine Project Director of DFS France SAS (LVMH Group) Mikael Guery; and Europe Director of Xiaomi France Yan Liu, shared their views on technological innovation in the area of new retail. Whether online or offline, they said, businesses must provide good service to customers and ensure the consistency of service quality. In the new retail era, the group added, online and offline has begun to converge and the most important thing is to provide good consumer experience.

Former Prime Minister of France and CEIBS Distinguished Professor Dominique de Villepin then delivered the closing speech of the event, in which he stated that today's global situation has undergone many changes and the world economy has entered a new era. In the era of the “new economy”, he stated, people now demand common ground while reserving differences, seek common development, actively explore potential co-operation opportunities, and work to promote economic prosperity and the fair distribution of wealth. This, he concluded, is an important goal of global economic co-operation and one of the key motivations behind the China-France Investment Dialogue.

An award ceremony for the 2019 Franco-Chinese Trophies for CSR was held following the event. The China-France Investment Dialogue marks the finale of the CEIBS Insights 5th Europe Forum 2019 series. For details about these and other CEIBS 25th Anniversary Celebration events, please visit our special CEIBS 25 page here.

Darren Yue
Rachel Wang & Michael Thede