France’s political and business establishment has hit out against the hegemony of the dollar in international transactions after U.S. authorities fined BNP Paribas $9 billion for helping countries avoid sanctions.
Michel Sapin, the French finance minister, called for a “rebalancing” of the currencies used for global payments, saying the BNP Paribas case should “make us realize the necessity of using a variety of currencies”.
He said, in an interview with the Financial Times on the sidelines of a weekend economics conference: “We [Europeans] are selling to ourselves in dollars, for instance when we sell planes. Is that necessary? I don’t think so. I think a rebalancing is possible and necessary, not just regarding the euro but also for the big currencies of the emerging countries, which account for more and more of global trade.”
Christophe de Margerie, the chief executive of Total, France’s biggest company by market capitalization, said he saw no reason for oil purchases to be made in dollars, even if the benchmark price in dollars was likely to remain.
“The price of a barrel of oil is quoted in dollars,” he said. “A refinery can take that price and using the euro-dollar exchange rate on any given day, agree to make the payment in euros.”
One chief executive of a CAC 40 industrial group said he supported Mr Sapin’s push.