Look Who's Bowing To Japan Inc. Now

The French are cozying up to their carmaking rivals

As French Prime Minister in 1991, Edith Cresson referred to the Japanese causing France's trade deficit as "ants." Today, French attitudes couldn't be more different. Renault, formerly a state-protected icon, has purchased a giant stake in Nissan Motor Co. Toyota Motor Corp. recently began importing its new $10,000 Yaris compact into France. And encouraged by a $55 million subsidy, Toyota is pushing ahead on a $666 million auto plant in the depressed mining town of Valenciennes to produce the Yaris locally by 2001.

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