Official speeches and statements - April 11, 2018
2. Saudi Arabia - Franco-Saudi Business Forum - Opening speech by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris, 10/04/2018)
1. Syria - United States of America - Telephone conversation between M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, and Mr Donald Trump, President of the United States of America - Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Paris, 10/04/2018)
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke again on the evening of Monday 9 April to the President of the United States of America about the situation in Syria.
The French President and the US President took stock of developments since the chemical attacks of 7 April on the people of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, and the debates under way at the United Nations Security Council. They reaffirmed their desire for a firm reaction by the international community to these new attacks on the prohibition of chemical weapons.
The two presidents agreed to remain in close contact./.
I’m pleased to be opening with you the Franco-Saudi Business Forum, which is being held on the occasion of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to France.
Since King Faisal’s visit in 1967 and his meeting with General de Gaulle, relations between our two countries have developed thanks to trustful relations which have always prevailed between our leaders. The personal relationship President Macron and the Crown Prince have forged since their first meeting in Riyadh last November is no exception. It has allowed us to build our strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia on four pillars: political and diplomatic issues; security and defence - a hugely important issue in this period; the economy, trade and investment; and educational, cultural and scientific cooperation. But this framework means nothing without your investment. It is up to you - business leaders, innovators, those involved in economic life - to foster this partnership.
On the economic front, you’ll observe that there’s an incredible synchrony which brings us closer together today: both France and Saudi Arabia have begun significantly transforming their economies, with two goals in particular. First, to strengthen their positions as players at the forefront of innovation and new technology, and also to make themselves more attractive to international investors. This has been President Macron’s programme since he was elected last May, and it’s the desire of the Crown Prince, set out in Vision 2030. This alignment of economic agendas offers us a shared opportunity. It’s up to us to grasp it.
This happens to be the goal of the business forum. The meetings and discussions you’re going to have today will determine - at least, I hope they will - your decisions to invest in the coming months and years. Today we’re preparing the future between our two countries. Because for us, Saudi Arabia is more than a customer. It’s a strategic partner, a member of the G20 and key to stability and international economic governance, with whom we’re committed over the long term and in every sector.
In this partnership, we can build on the close ties which already exist, particularly as regards investment. A few figures serve as a reminder of this. In 2017, the volume of civil trade between France and Saudi Arabia came to euro8.6 billion. That’s up 8.7% from 2016.
In addition, French foreign direct investment (FDI) in Saudi Arabia totals $15.3 billion. This ranks us third among foreign investors in the country, behind the United States and Kuwait. There are 80 French companies in Saudi Arabia today; they employ around 27,600 people, including 10,000 Saudis. So the foundations of our economic relationship are solid: on this basis, we can forge ahead, particularly in those sectors where French expertise and skills can contribute to the swift transformation of Saudi Arabia’s economy.
I’m thinking, firstly, of the energy sector, because Saudi Arabia is preparing for the post-oil age. The kingdom must take up the energy transition challenge today; the challenge is one of the main themes of Vision 2030. France has first-rate expertise and skills when it comes to low-carbon - such as nuclear and renewable - energy, thanks to its major groups such as Total, EDF and Engie, and also its innovative SMEs specializing, for example, in energy storage. I would add that the partnerships forged in this area are a logical and necessary complement to our political dialogue on climate issues.
I’m also thinking of agriculture and agrifood. Major groups such as Danone are already well established in the kingdom. Saudi groups have invested in the sector in France. Saudi consumers appreciate the quality and safety of our products. Other French companies are ready today to contribute to the development of an aquaculture industry of excellence and help secure and diversify Saudi Arabia’s supply.
Similarly, health is a sector where France can create added value, to the mutual benefit of our economies. Our public and private actors are also ready to support the kingdom, be it in the fight against cancer and diabetes, in epidemiology, the emergency services, medicine production or the management of its blood-collection and healthcare systems.
Sustainable cities are also a priority area of concern in our cooperation. Vision 2030, which puts urban development at the heart of its economic transformation strategy, takes this aspect fully into account. French companies are putting forward an attractive, high-quality offer regarding seawater desalination, waste management and water-supply systems management, and sustainable mobility.
TOURISM/RED SEA PROJECT
Finally, tourism and leisure are also a sector where our expertise as the world’s number one destination can be of great use to you. We can create an essential partnership in that sector. We’d particularly like to work together on the Red Sea project to develop tourism on the shores of the Red Sea.
I’d like, finally, to remind you of the project to develop the Al-Ula region, for which, on the Crown Prince’s initiative, Saudi Arabia has chosen France as its partner of choice. That exceptional natural and archaeological site will have at its heart the ancient city of Mada’in Saleh, inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites, and where French archaeologists have been carrying out excavations for nearly a century. Tomorrow it will be a global benchmark. This unique potential, incorporating respect for the environment, the integrity of the sites and tourism attractiveness will, I believe, be key to our partnership and also Saudi Arabia’s tourism and development prospects.
Ministers, these are challenges, projects, potential agendas. Rest assured, Your Royal Highness, ministers, that French companies are keen to make a human and financial contribution in Saudi Arabia and so play a full part in the Crown Prince’s desire to make it a land of innovation. You may be assured that President Macron, his foreign minister and the ministers who are coming to meet you today - Bruno Le Maire, in particular - will work actively at the service of an essential bilateral relationship and the success of our two economies. Thank you./.