French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in China Monday for a three-day trip that is expected to be dominated by trade. 

During his trip, he intends to lobby on behalf of European companies for greater access to Chinese markets.

Speaking at a meeting with French and German companies in Shanghai, Macron announced that the EU would sign an agreement with Beijing on protected geographic indications, according to the Reuters news agency. The deal relates to locally made products protected by EU law.

Macron is accompanied by German Education Minister Anja Karliczek and EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan. On Tuesday, they are due to attend a giant trade fair before Macron heads to Beijing for talks.

“We will be able to jointly explain in China our European position,” Karliczek said in a statement.

“Since this fair is supposed to demonstrate China’s openness, well, let’s prove it with access to its agribusiness market and progress on the EU-China deals,” said a French presidential adviser ahead of the trip. 

The adviser said it is important to show unity “because we know how Europeans have moved to China without any coordination in the past, letting China think we were divided.”

Read more: In Duisburg, China expands trade influence in Germany

The sun is hidden behind a Chinese flag

European countries want reciprocal access to China’s markets

Beijing to Brussels

The trip comes as the US trade war with China takes its toll on European business. But analysts say the trade war has also given further impetus to enhancing European trade ties with China.

Last week, China appointed its first special envoy for European affairs in a sign of Europe’s growing importance for Beijing. Wu Hongbo, who will take up the post, served as China’s ambassador to Germany from 2009 to 2012.

“As two important forces in the world, China and Europe have formed a multidimensional, multifaceted and wide-ranging cooperation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

Read more: Technological competition casts shadow over European industry

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ls/rt (Reuters, AFP)

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