Updated May 4th, 2024 at 17:06 IST

French cosmetics sector looks to Xi Jinping's visit for relief on Chinese import rules

Macron's office has stressed the significance of cosmetics in the agenda, aiming to strike a balance that safeguards the interests of French enterprises.

Reported by: Business Desk
French cosmetics industry | Image:Unsplash

French cosmetics industry: As President Xi Jinping prepares for his first visit to Europe in five years, France's cosmetics industry is eagerly anticipating talks between Xi and French President Emmanuel Macron to mitigate the impact of stringent new Chinese import regulations. These regulations mandate the sharing of formulas and manufacturing expertise, posing a challenge for French companies operating in China.

Amidst escalating trade tensions, particularly in industries such as electric vehicles and green energy, the discussions scheduled in Paris next week could offer a glimmer of hope for the cosmetics sector. Macron's office has stressed the significance of cosmetics in the agenda, aiming to strike a balance that safeguards the interests of French enterprises.


France, renowned as the world's leading cosmetics exporter, faces significant stakes in this dialogue. With nearly 2 billion euros ($2.15 billion) worth of makeup and skincare products exported to China last year, cosmetics rank second only to aerospace products in France's export portfolio.

The impending implementation of new Chinese safety regulations, slated for next year, poses a direct threat to this vital trade relationship. Starting May 2025, cosmetics exporters will be mandated to disclose intricate details of their manufacturing processes to Chinese authorities and accommodate inspections by Chinese officials in their facilities. Concerns loom large over the potential loss of intellectual property control under these regulations.


However, negotiations between France and China over the past year have birthed a potential solution. French authorities are proposing to assume responsibility for ensuring the safety of select exports without necessitating Chinese inspections. In return, France would extend analogous measures to China, although the specific areas covered remain unclear.

Emmanuel Guichard, Secretary General of France's cosmetics industry association (FEBEA), asserts that this reciprocity would uphold the highest safety standards for Chinese consumers. Notably, key players in the French cosmetics landscape, including L'Oreal, LVMH, and Coty, are represented by FEBEA.


Under the proposed agreement, France's consumer and anti-fraud watchdog (DGCCRF) would oversee the safety compliance of designated French manufacturers eligible for "white list" status. The agency has already initiated discussions with China's National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) on certifying French cosmetics for export to China, marking a significant step towards formalising the arrangement during the upcoming Xi-Macron talks.

While responses from the Elysee, DGCCRF, and NMPA were not immediately available, the impending discussions hold the promise of alleviating the regulatory burden faced by French cosmetics exporters venturing into the Chinese market.


(With Reuters inputs.)


Published May 4th, 2024 at 17:06 IST