France's Le Maire talks sanctions, Carrefour, growth
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday that resolving transatlantic trade sanctions were his priority for dealings with the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.
"These sanctions are very detrimental.
A trade war is not in the interests of the U.S. and not in the interest of Europe," Le Maire said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference.
Le Maire added a growth forecast of 6% for France's economy in 2021 remained within reach and that he was confident of a strong recovery by the end of the year.
But he cautioned: "We have to remain humble and cautious because we have been fooled by the virus many times." A foreign company purchasing supermarket retailer Carrefour would be a "major difficulty" for the government, he said, because of the need to guarantee food security for citizens.
"Carrefour is a very strong company and I fully trust Carrefour to improve its model and to develop a new distribution model, but having Carrefour being bought by a foreign company would be a major difficulty for all of us." In a surprise move, Quebec-based Couche-Tard said on Wednesday it submitted a non-binding 20 euros per share offer for the French grocery group, largely in cash, valuing the French company at 16.2 billion euros (US$19.72 billion).