Fostering the “reshoring” of French companies that have chosen to relocate overseas and encouraging French people to prefer products “Made in France,” are just two of the tasks set for Industrial Revival Minister Arnaud Montebourg by President Francois Hollande, Mr. Montebourg told some 30 Anglo-American Press Association members on Jan. 8.

During a lunch kindly hosted by Mr. Montebourg at the Finance Ministry at Bercy, he referred to one of President Obama’s campaign slogans: “Let’s bring jobs back home.” And he noted that France’s Socialist party had been inspired by the U.S. political system to organize primaries ahead of France’s own presidential elections in 2012.

The Socialist firebrand told AAPA members that he believes that multilateral trade deals are “dead” because it’s difficult to conclude meaningful trade agreements inside the World Trade Organization, notably since China obtained membership, and said France prefers bilateral deals that it feels are more protective of its interests.

He explained that his mandate to revive manufacturing industries and create jobs in France will require a “nation-wide cultural mobilization” to stimulate awareness among all French people, whether they be employees, entrepreneurs, engineers or bankers, of the need to get back to work. He referred admiringly to Franklin Roosevelt’s efforts to lead the U.S. out of depression, and said the British economist John Maynard Keynes’ notion of “the end of laissez-faire” in the economic sphere is exactly what the Hollande administration has in mind as it tries to “humanize and moralize” capitalism.

-David Pearson