Macron and Scholz Call for Re-balancing China Trade

Chancellor Scholz will have to balance encouraging words on economic cooperation with the EU's strident message accusing China of unfair subsidies © JOHN THYS / AFP/File
Chancellor Scholz will have to balance encouraging words on economic cooperation with the EU's strident message accusing China of unfair subsidies © JOHN THYS / AFP/File
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Macron and Scholz Call for Re-balancing China Trade

Chancellor Scholz will have to balance encouraging words on economic cooperation with the EU's strident message accusing China of unfair subsidies © JOHN THYS / AFP/File
Chancellor Scholz will have to balance encouraging words on economic cooperation with the EU's strident message accusing China of unfair subsidies © JOHN THYS / AFP/File

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on Friday for a "re-balancing" of trade relations between Europe and China on the eve of the German leader visiting Beijing.

In a video call between the two European leaders, they also discussed the impact of the war in Ukraine on European security, officials in Macron's office said.

Scholz travels to China this weekend for a delicate three-day trip at a time when the West is sharpening its tone towards Beijing, both about its trade practices and its closeness to Moscow, AFP reported.

The European Union has accused China of inundating Europe with subsidised goods sold at below-market prices.

The European Commission on Tuesday opened a probe into Chinese wind turbine suppliers, following investigations into state aid for solar panels, electric cars and trains.

In their call, Macron and Scholz also underlined the need to "spur European competitivity", notably by deepening pan-European capital markets, a project that would require harmonising financial rules across the bloc, but which has been held up by disagreements between Paris and Berlin.

The two also reaffirmed their "unwavering and long-term support for Ukraine" and "discussed European initiatives to provide military support for Ukraine," Macron's office said.

The French president has been expected to visit Ukraine for several weeks, but he has said he will only make the trip when he has something concrete to bring.

Macron and Scholz will meet face-to-face at a joint French-German cabinet meeting May 28 in Meseberg, near Berlin, which will coincide with a state visit to Germany by the French president.



Lebanon Tourism Season Revives Economic Outlook

People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Lebanon Tourism Season Revives Economic Outlook

People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The surge in visitors to Lebanon during Eid al-Adha and high demand for summer concert bookings are boosting hopes for a revival in tourism.

This sector is crucial for reigniting positive economic growth after about nine months of challenging conditions due to the Gaza war and subsequent border clashes between Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon.

Contrary to earlier fears this month of possible Israeli strikes inside Lebanon, Ali Hamieh, caretaker Minister of Public Works and Transport, reported a daily average of 14,000 arrivals at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport, with numbers on the rise.

Jean Abboud, President of the Association of Travel and Tourism Agents, confirmed that despite initial concerns, booking rates have bounced back to 90-95% after Israeli threats of a mid-month strike. Most arrivals are Lebanese expatriates and foreign workers.

Before the summer season’s anticipated surge, Lebanon saw a 5.37% decrease in arrivals, with air traffic down by 9.34% and passenger numbers at Beirut International Airport dropping by 6.84% in the first five months of this year, totaling 2.29 million travelers compared to 2.46 million last year.

These declines were linked to the border clashes.

Lebanon’s tourism sector, generating over $5 billion annually in recent years, ranks as the country’s second most vital revenue stream after expatriate remittances, which officially approach $7 billion.

Together, they contribute more than half of Lebanon’s national income, which has dropped sharply from about $55 billion to under $22 billion due to the ongoing financial and currency crises that erupted five years ago.

Despite significant losses during peak tourism seasons like Christmas, Easter, and Eid al-Fitr, a report by Bank Audi indicated that Lebanon’s tourism revenues lost over $1 billion in the first six months of the Gaza conflict, driven by a 24% drop in tourist arrivals.

On average, tourists spend around $3,000 during their stay in Lebanon.