Macron touts rosy French economy and new jobs ahead of election


CHALAMPE, France, Jan 17 (Reuters) – President Emmanuel Macron on Monday touted 21 new foreign investment projects in France and a booming economy as proof that his economic reforms have borne fruit less than three months before a presidential election at which it should Course.

During a visit to Alsace in the east, Macron inaugurated a 300 million euro ($340 million) industrial project by German chemical giant BASF (BASFn.DE) to produce high-tech nylon in France, one of 21 new projects worth 4 billion euros and 10,000 jobs as part of a campaign to attract foreign investors.

US drugmaker Pfizer (PFE.N) also announced a €520m investment plan in France on Monday while US firm Eastman said it would invest $1bn to build a recycling plant. plastics. Read more

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As the presidential race heats up, Macron is keen to deflect the debate away from immigration and public order issues and focus on the economy, which has recovered strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our country has been deindustrializing for 15 years,” Macron told workers at the sprawling site by the Rhine.

“Since 2019, we have started to create new industrial jobs again. This is the result of the choice we made. Our choice – everything makes sense – was to make reforms at the start of our mandate,” Macron added.

Since 2017, Macron has implemented a cocktail of supply-side economic reforms designed to boost business competitiveness, lower taxes for investors and ease tough labor market rules.

Critics say he acted as a “president of the rich” who wants to cut France’s precious social safety nets and cut social benefits for some of the poorest.

But three months before the April election, indicators show that the French economy is booming, with growth expected to reach 6.7% in 2021 and France is back closer to pre-pandemic levels than any other G7 country except the United States.

Whether that translates into votes for Macron remains to be seen. With energy prices soaring across Europe, households are having to pay higher electricity bills, fueling fears within government of voter discontent.

Macron supporters received an unexpected boost from economist Paul Krugman on Friday.

“In fact, among the major advanced economies, the star of the pandemic era is arguably…France,” he wrote in his New York Times column.

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Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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