(MENAFN- Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Amid growing economic problems in Europe - with France facing a year of zero growth - French Minister for Industry Revitalisation Arnaud Montebourg on Monday attacked unfair trading conditions with China and urged consumers to buy French goods rather than cheaper Chinese imports.
Speaking on "France Info" radio, Montebourg blamed the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for trade imbalances with China and for admitting that country to the WTO without asking for any compromises.
China is criticized by many major industrialised countries for artificially maintaining its currency, the Yuan, at low levels to favour exports and discourage imports.
Many markets are flooded with relatively inexpensive Chinese goods in a number of areas and local competitors cannot match the low prices because of higher producer costs, social taxes and stringent labour laws.
By comparison, China's labour, social and other costs are much lower.
Montebourg said that the impact of this on the European Union, and particularly the Eurocurrency area, was a scandal and had been a "disaster." He said the WTO should do more to balance the trade situation with China, where burgeoning trade surpluses are badly affecting industries in many countries in Europe.
For France, he said, the trade balance in favour of China has soared over the past decade.
"Ten years ago, we had no trade deficit with China. Today, France has a deficit of Euros 25 billion (USD 33 billion)...and the Eurozone, 150 billion (Euros)," he asserted.
He blamed the WTO for not asking anything in exchange for China being admitted to the WTO in December 2001.
"The picture of world free trade presented by the WTO is a disaster," Montebourg argued.
Montebourg is tasked with saving ailing industries in France and especially with saving jobs in a country with an official jobless level of over three million, or close to 10 percent of the workforce.
He said many job losses are due to "unfair competition and scandalous unfair globalisation" and this must be halted.
Montebourg is also trying to stop companies and industries relocating to countries where labour costs and producer costs are lower than in France, which has high payroll taxes and a corporate tax of over 30 percent.
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