Economic and trade cooperation between China and France has been strengthened ahead of the upcoming second Belt and Road Forum with a strong start to bilateral trade this year and amid ongoing cooperation projects.

“About 10 third-party market cooperation projects jointly initiated by China and France are under negotiation right now,” French Ambassador to China Jean-Maurice Ripert said on Wednesday at a press briefing.

“China and France are making progress in every cooperation field,” the Ambassador said. During the briefing, Ripert released the cooperation list, which includes China’s purchase of 300 Airbus planes and Airbus’ own plans to further develop its business in North China’s Tianjin Municipality.

New upcoming trade projects were brought up as well. These include China expanding pork imports and lifting import bans on poultry from Frances.

Ripert also said that the French Foreign Minister will attend the upcoming second Belt and Road Forum as French President Emmanuel Macron’s special envoy, which shows the value France places on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

“China has been financing some countries’ infrastructure projects under the BRI framework. The EU has also provided financial support for the same kinds of projects.

Under the EU-Asia connectivity strategy, there’s space [for China and the EU] to work together in a natural way,” he said.

In 2018, Macron started his first state trip in China from Xi’an, capital of Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province and the starting point of the ancient Silk Road.

“There is great recognition of the promising economic opportunities brought along with the BRI,” the Ambassador said. France remained China’s fourth-largest trading partner among EU members and bilateral trade reached $62.89 billion in 2018, up 15.5 percent year-on-year. In the first two months of 2019, the growth rate further jumped to 42.2 percent year-on-year.

The French Ambassador again welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to France last month and praised the great achievements reached during the visit. Amid the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France, every topic could be discussed under the profound friendship, he noted.