Sarkozy Tells France to Embrace Globalization - But in a 'French Way'

From Staff Reports

Calling the global free markets an “illusion”, new French President Nicholas Sarkozy has vowed to keep French interests at heart in the home market even as he helps French companies become powerhouses in the rapidly emerging global markets, the International Herald Tribune reported Thursday.

Sarkozy was elected earlier this year, and is the consummate outsider turned insider. On Thursday, Sarkozy bluntly told France to stop kidding itself and face up to it - but in a French way. He said that France should not be shy about having the government defend French companies and interests from foreign marauders. He vowed to make conditions more business-friendly at home to allow French companies to compete better in the world. In return, he asked them to have French interests at heart when they set prices, negotiated wages and made investment decisions.

"We will not obtain growth if we don't play the game of globalization collectively," Sarkozy told about 4,000 business executives at the annual conference of the country's biggest employers' federation, Medefs.

"But let's not be naïve," Sarkozy went on to say. "Let's look at the world and ask ourselves the question: Should we be naïve to the point of being the only ones not to defend our interests when all the others are defending theirs?"

Sarkozy's comments came as the debate about the winners and losers of globalization was gathering pace in several countries, where governments face rising demands for protection from voters. The recent turmoil in credit markets has only intensified those calls. The Herald Tribune reported that Sarkozy promised to equip French business to compete better in world markets and vowed to go further in cutting payroll taxes and relaxing the 35-hour workweek - a piece of legislation he called "an immense economic mistake."

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