Algeria, France hail ‘new dynamic’ in economic ties

2. Algeria France
Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune (right) receives French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne at the presidential palace in Algiers, on October 10, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

ALGIERS — 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.اضافة اعلان

Borne’s two-day trip to the major gas exporter and former French colony 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 called for “a new dynamic of economic cooperation”.

Before returning to Paris, she also met with President Abdelmajid Tebboune and said bilateral ties will continue with “regular visits and exchanges on the economic, political and technical levels”.

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 EU’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 organized 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.

Algiers and Paris 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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