France's Le Maire Sees New Global Economic Order in Five Years

(Bloomberg) -- French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said a new global economic order will emerge over the next five years, and both France and the euro area must reform urgently to meet that challenge.

In a wide-ranging speech of almost an hour, Le Maire sought to flesh out the broad lines President Emmanuel Macron’s economic thinking: The administration is seeking to strengthen the French economy by increasing its flexibility while pushing the European Union to defend its economic sovereignty in the face of the U.S. and China.

“We need to be clear that the international landscape is changing at a stupefying pace and is leading to deep changes in the balance of power and the economic game,” Le Maire said in Paris. “Given this great turning point, the conclusion is simple: there is not a moment to waste in accelerating the economic transformation of France and the transformation of the euro zone.”

Repeating a line he first proffered last week in China, Le Maire said he sees no contradiction in making France an “open” economy while the government works to prevent the nation being “pillaged” by outside interests.

Le Maire also outlined an plans to introduce this year, saying that he wants to help companies grow in size and promote profit sharing with workers. He said he plans to break France’s attachment to increasing the regulatory burden on companies once they exceed a certain a number of employees -- economists said that such features of French regulation deter companies from hiring.

“The great risk today is that human connections are undermined as a result of the increase in inequality and short-term selfishness,” Le Maire said. “Once you recognize this risk, you want to resist it. I will make this commitment the hallmark of our ministry in 2018.”

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