French Economy to Grow 1.3% With a Pension Deal, Le Maire Says

(Bloomberg) -- The French economy will grow 1.3% this year, the same pace as 2019, as long as a compromise is reached quickly with labor unions that are on strike over pension reform, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche.

“The economic outlook for France is good and solid,” Le Maire told the newspaper. The economy has created more than 500,000 jobs since 2017, and unemployment should drop to 7% by the end of President Emmanuel Macron’s term in 2022, he said. The jobless rate was 8.3% in the third quarter.

The strike that has curtailed public transportation for the past month won’t weigh on growth “if a compromise is found rapidly,” Le Maire said. “There’s a time to make your opposition known, and there’s a time to find a compromise. That time has come.” Unions should accept Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s offer to negotiate so that discussions scheduled for this week can be conclusive, he said.

French Economy to Grow 1.3% With a Pension Deal, Le Maire Says

The French, particularly in the Paris region, are tired of the transit strike and the struggle to get to work, he said. “This can’t go on,” Le Maire said.

A survey conducted Thursday and Friday by Ifop found that 44% of those polled support the strikers, down from 51% just before Christmas, the newspaper reported. The latest results found 37% opposed to the protests and 19% were indifferent.

The government is ready to respond to tariffs threatened by the U.S. over France’s proposed tax on digital services, Le Maire said.

“We want to avoid a trade war, but we’re ready to respond, with our European partners, if we’re hit with sanctions that we think are inappropriate, unfriendly and illegitimate,” he said.

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