Paris (AFP) Nov 9, 2010
France said Tuesday it was seeking to team up with Turkey for joint European trade missions in Africa to counter the growing power of China in winning contracts there.
"I have proposed to our Turkish friends to run joint missions by Turkey and France, Turkey and Britain, in Africa where competition is such that it is often the Chinese who win the contracts," Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told parliament.
"Turkey and France could join forces to make more effective bids," he added.
France has been a vocal opponent of Turkey's ambition to join the 27-nation European Union and argues the mainly Muslim country of about 73 million people should settle for a "privileged partnership" rather than full membership.
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy has blocked certain formal stages of the long process to formalise ties between Ankara and the EU, referred to as "chapters."
Kouchner said however that France was willing for "another chapter to be opened, on competition."
"It is not a simple matter," he added however. "Let's give it time."
A source with knowledge of the proposals said French companies were looking to boost their cooperation with Turkey in Africa since its ties with the continent were growing.
"If French business gets together with big Turkish conglomerates it will be more effective in Africa, central Asia and the near and Middle East," said the source, who asked not to be named.
"That way it will avoid getting swept aside by the Chinese in Africa," the source added. "In 2007 there were seven Turkish embassies in Africa. By the end of the year there will be 32."
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