Bruno Le Maire, France's finance minister
Bruno Le Maire, France's finance minister, during a panel session on the closing day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, January 20, 2023. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Davos: Europe mustn't get embroiled in a standoff between China and the US, and should instead forge its own path in strengthening economic relations, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

There is a "slight gap" between how Europe and the US deal with China, he told Bloomberg Television's Francine Lacqua at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It's in the European Union's own interests to work with China toward goals including tackling climate change and furthering trade, he added.

"The US wants to oppose China, we want to engage China," Le Maire said on Friday. "I strongly believe that in the world game, China must be in, China cannot be out."

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French President Emmanuel Macron and his finance minister have often called for Europe to coordinate more to assert itself as a third force on the world economic stage. For Le Maire, that has meant talking tough on US industrial policy, which he has accused of veering toward a China-style globalization with massive subsidies in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Le Maire said the EU should have a "two-track approach" in its response to the climate legislation, both demanding concessions and developing its own measures.

"We are expecting some concessions from our American friends but there is also another way, which is to put in place a kind of European Inflation Reduction act," Le Maire said. "Time is of the essence: we need to be more independent."