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'France is back': Macron touts France, in English, before Davos elite

Fabrice Coffrini, AFP | French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 24, 2018 in Davos, eastern Switzerland.

French President Emmanuel Macron told the world's business elite in Davos on Wednesday that France was back as a European powerhouse under his reformist government.

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"France is back at the core of Europe," Macron said in English in a highly anticipated speech, before switching to French to outline his vision of a new "social compact" for globalisation.

France 24's Stephen Carroll reports from Davos after Macron speech

The 40-year-old, who was elected to the Elysée Palace last May, argued for global cooperation to avoid "unbridled tax optimisation".

Speaking in English, he touted his own economic reforms, including tax cuts for businesses and measures to make the jobs market more flexible.

"In France it was forbidden to fail and forbidden to succeed, it reduced your way to manoeuvre. Now it should be more easy to fail and take risks," he said.

Macron, a former Rothschild investment banker, is among the darlings of this year's World Economic Forum.

He spoke on the eve of the arrival of protectionist US President Donald Trump, a more divisive presence in Davos.

Macron took the podium after German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who stepped up to the defence of global free trade as business and political leaders braced for Trump's arrival.

"In terms of trade we're moving towards greater protectionism... we're undoing what globalisation has been able to achieve," Macron lamented.

The French president did not mention his US counterpart by name, but joked about the heavy snowfall, saying it might lead some people to question climate change.

“Fortunately you didn’t invite anybody sceptical of global warming this year,” Macron said to WEF founder Klaus Schwab, on the stage with him.

Macron last attended the forum as a government minister in 2016. He used that visit to make contact with global executives and burnish his international credentials before running for the French presidency.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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