France Says Boosting Use of Euro Is Issue of ‘Global Balance’

Jul 06, 2014 8:14 am ET

July 6 (Bloomberg) -- French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said euro area governments need to look at ways of bolstering the use of the euro in international transactions as a matter of “global balance.”

The remarks come a week after Paris-based bank BNP Paribas SA was slapped with a $8.97 billion fine by U.S. authorities for transactions carried out in dollars in countries facing American sanctions. The fine spurred debate in France about the right of the U.S. in extending its regulatory reach beyond its borders.

“This is not a fight against dollar imperialism,” Sapin said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Aix-en- Provence, France. “We sell ourselves aircraft in dollars. Is that really necessary? I don’t think so.”

Euro area finance ministers will discuss ways of increasing the use of the euro tomorrow in Brussels, Sapin said. The French finance minister received support from Christophe de Margerie, head of French oil company Total SA, who said yesterday that he sees no reason for oil purchases to be made in dollars, adding that it makes sense to expand the use of other currencies in transactions outside the U.S.

“Nothing prevents anyone from paying for oil in euros,” de Margerie said in Aix-en-Provence. “The price of a barrel of oil is quoted in dollars. A refinery can take that price and using the euro-dollar exchange rate on any given day, agree to make the payment in euros.”