France urges bigger euro role in international trade

PARIS, July 9 Wed Jul 9, 2014 8:04am EDT

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PARIS, July 9 (Reuters) - The euro zone must work to bolster the role of the euro in international business transactions, France's finance minister said on Wednesday.

Michel Sapin, who made a similar call last week when France's largest bank BNP Paribas agreed to pay almost $9 billion to resolve U.S. accusations that it violated sanctions, said that would also allow businesses to avoid currency exchange risk.

Talking about the extra-territoriality of U.S. laws linked to using the U.S. dollar, Sapin told a conference: "The euro zone must think about the role it is giving to its common currency - and mobilise itself to bolster the usage of the euro as an international exchange currency."

Sapin said last week that euro zone finance ministers would discuss at a regular meeting on Monday ways to bolster the use of the euro, but he was not present at the meeting and no news came out of any discussion of the issue, officials said.

According to U.S. law, banks can be prosecuted for processing U.S. dollar transactions for countries subject to U.S. sanctions, even if the operations involve non-U.S. branches.

Oil major Total's chief executive Christophe de Margerie backed Sapin's call during the weekend, saying there was no reason to pay for oil in U.S. dollars

"Doing without the (U.S.) dollar, that wouldn't be realistic, but it would be good if the euro was used more," the CEO of the French major said. (Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Additional reporting by Robin Emmott in Brussels; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Andrew Callus)

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