Algeria, France hail 'new dynamic' in economic ties

AFP , Monday 10 Oct 2022

The Algerian and French prime ministers on Monday hailed a "new dynamic" as they launched a joint economic forum during a visit to Algiers by France's Elisabeth Borne.

Tebboune
Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune (C-R) receives French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne at the presidential palace in Algiers, on October 10, 2022. AFP

 

Borne's two-day trip to the former French colony and major gas exporter comes just weeks after President Emmanuel Macron concluded his own three-day visit in August, following months of tensions.

In remarks during the forum's inauguration, Algerian Prime Minister Aimene Benabderrahmane called for "a sustainable dynamic" in trade with France based on "reciprocity and mutual interests".

Borne, who is also due to meet with President Abdelmajid Tebboune later on Monday before returning to Paris, called for "a new dynamic of economic cooperation".

Borne and her cohort are the latest in a string of top European officials to visit Algeria, Africa's top natural gas exporter, as officials seek alternatives to Russian energy supplies since the start of the war in Ukraine.

The European Union's energy commissioner, Kadri Simson, is also expected in Algiers on Monday and Tuesday.

But ahead of her trip, Borne's office said deliveries of natural gas to France were "not on the table".

Economic Diversification

Both Borne and Benabderrahmane stressed the need for Algeria to pursue economic diversification.

France is "the first investor in Algeria, excluding hydrocarbons", Borne told the forum, adding that French businesses are "ready to support the diversification" of Algeria's economy.

Benabderrahmane said Algeria must "end its dependence on natural gas and attract foreign investment" in agriculture, pharmaceutical and vaccine production, and renewable energy, which "offer positive prospects for French businesses".

The two-day business forum was organised by the Algerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Business France, a government agency promoting international investment, which brought representatives of some 70 French firms to the event.

Ties between the North African country and its former colonial ruler had deteriorated after Macron last year questioned Algeria's existence as a nation before the French occupation, and accused the government of fomenting "hatred towards France".

But the contentious subject of the two countries' history, particularly during the war, was not set to feature prominently on Borne's agenda.

The North African country and its former colonial ruler moreover maintain bilateral trade at a large scale, with France being the second largest investor in Algeria, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Fabrice Le Sache, the vice president of French business lobby group Medef, on Monday hailed "the dynamic created by the president" during his August visit.

Macron produced a good "atmosphere" for the business community, he told AFP at the forum on Monday.

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