France wants to regain its position as Algeria’s top economic partner

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France voiced its willingness to regain its position as Algeria’s major economic partner, having been overshadowed recently by other countries.

“In recent years, France has seen its economic exchanges with Algeria go from 24 percent to 10 percent,” French Minister for the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire said here on Sunday in his opening remarks at the fourth session of the Algerian-French Joint Economic Committee (COMEFA).

According to figures of the Algerian Customs, France’s exports to Algeria were worth 4.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, representing 10.15 percent of the total imports of the North African nation.

China, France, Italy, Russia and Spain are Algeria’s top importing nations, and the top destinations for its exports are Italy, Spain, the United States, France and Brazil.

The minister remained optimistic about the future of bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries, saying “It is true that our bilateral partnership has moved backward. We are determined to give it new impetus in the future.”

Le Maire said that the signing of three partnership agreements in the agri-food, energy and automative sectors, including the establishment of an assembly unit for the French automaker PSA-Peugeot in the western province of Oran, “proves that we can achieve such goals only when there is political will.”

“We have been looking at the technical problems (related to Peugeot) every week, and finally we have managed to fix them. We have also set up working groups to address issues related to our joint projects, including those of Alstom, Renault and Sanofi, in a bid to advance,” he added.

The PSA- Peugeot project was officially revealed for the first time by former French President Francois Hollande during his visit to Algeria in 2015. However, the project has been postponed due to “technical reasons” raised by both sides.

Bilateral relations between France and Algeria have been lagging, with both unable to overcome their common “painful” past, which includes 132 years of French colonial era in Algeria, said analysts.

Despite these difficulties, Algeria remains one of France’s biggest economic partners in Africa. France is also the largest investor in Algeria in the field of hydrocarbons.

At the COMEFA, a memorandum of understanding was also signed between Algeria’s Agrolog and French Agromed for the establishment of a joint venture to export Algeria’s fruits and vegetables, in addition to a partnership agreement in the field of organic agricultural products.

Besides, the two sides signed a shareholders’ pact between the Algerian state-run group of Elec El Djazair and the French Schneider Group in the field of manufacturing low, medium and high voltage electrical equipment.

Some 45 protocols, memoranda and partnership agreements have been signed at the joint committee since it was created five years ago, with an aim to help promote the bilateral economic and trade relations between Algeria and France.

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