WASHINGTON — France’s ambassador to the United States told an influential Washington audience Thursday his country’s tradition-breaking president, Emmanuel Macron, is a “disrupter” just like the non-conventional President Donald Trump, which will enable both to cultivate close economic and trade ties when the two leaders meet later this month.
“However the two presidents are personally different, they are two disrupters,” said Ambassador Gérard Araud at the Atlantic Council.
Araud said that France agreed with several of Trump’s controversial actions in international trade, such as defending intellectual property, and pitched a mutually-beneficial relationship. “We also have our concerns, so why not to get together on these issues?” Araud added.
Macron would convey his desire for a strong bilateral relationship during his first state visit to the United States in late April, according to Araud. “Every French president wants a good relationship with the U.S. president,” said Araud.
The panel discussion at the American think tank included Pierre-Andre Imbert, a social policy advisor at Macron’s office, who is working to lure overseas businesses, including those from the United States, to France.
“We want to create the most favorable environment for foreign companies to invest in France,” Imbert explained. He said France captured 20% of all foreign investment in Europe in 2017.
Outside of the European Union, the United States is France’s biggest trade partner, according to the World Trade Organization. France exported $48.9 billion in goods to the United States in 2017, data from the U.S. Census Bureau show.
However, warning signs abound, said Jeff Lightfoot, a fellow at The Atlantic who authored a new report titled, “The French-American Alliance in an America-First Era.”
Trump’s embrace of protectionism, including the abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership; announcement of tariffs on imported aluminum and steel; and the retreat from the North American Free Trade Agreement adds to the challenges to the Franco-American alliance, Lightfoot wrote in his report.
“The stakes are quite high for President Macron,” Lightfoot told attendees at Thursday’s event.