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French press review 1 October 2018

The boost to the US economy promised by Donald Trump does appear to have become a reality. But it may be a short-lived one. And who was Anthonius Gunawan Agung, and why is he a hero?


Le Monde's top story celebrates the fact that Canada and the United States have managed to reach agreement in their long-running free trade battle.

The deal was signed yesterday, just 90 minutes before a deadline imposed by Washington.

With Mexico already signed up, the latest step means that a new North American trade deal can now be put in place.

Macron goes west in search of salvation

Right-wing daily Le Figaro gives the front-page honours to French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been visiting French islands in the Caribbean, trying, according to the conservative paper, to boost his image.

Le Figaro says Macron has been anxious to listen to locals, especially in the poorer parts of the island of Saint-Martin, still struggling to rebuild in the wake of last year's Hurricane Irma.

The president is trying to correct the impression that he is cut off from everyday reality.

But he has had to bend before local realities on each of the four islands visited. Things move slowly. More slowly after a major disaster.

So the president has fallen back on one of his mantras to explain that he is trying to instigate deep reform and that the results cannot be expected by the end of the month. And he adds that he can take decisions but has to wait for a reaction down the line before those decisions are put into action.

The new image of Macron as president of the people, says Le Figaro, still needs quite a lot of work.

Hero of Indonesian earthquake stays on the job

Le Monde also honours Anthonius Gunawan Agung, the 21-year-old air traffic controller who died in the Indonesian earthquake because he refused to desert his post.

Agung was responsible for a plane which was preparing to take off from Palu airport as the 7.5 magnitude quake struck.

His colleagues fled the building.

Once the flight was safely airborne, Agung jumped from the fourth floor of the collapsing control tower, breaking both legs and suffering severe internal injuries. He died before a helicopter could reach him.

He has had his rank increased by two grades as a posthumous honour for extraordinary dedication.

The pilot of the plane which Agung helped to take off has posted the young man's photo on Instagram, with a message of thanks which ends by describing Agung as a "guardian angel," saying "Rest peacefully my wing man. God be with you."

Is America's economic revival a mirage?

Libération looks at the American economy, with five weeks to go to the US mid-term elections.

The left-leaning paper says that, while economic growth figures, jobs and wages are all looking good under Donald Trump, there are several dark zones in the picture of current US performance.

The crucial problem seems to stem from Trump's belief in unilateralism. Clearly his decision to slap a huge tax on aluminium imports has boosted the local mining and refining sectors. But what about those industries which depend on imported goods for their raw materials or which export the bulk of their products? They face a double penalty as other nations react to American import taxes by imposing their own.

Libération's editorial says Trump's economic isolationism is a recipe for long-term disaster. Not just economically as other global powers retaliate for US penalties but socially and politically as well, since nationalism and diplomatic closure trail in the wake of economic unilateralism. History has shown just how dangerous that cocktail can be.

Stop laughing at Trump, Orban and Salvini

And, on Libé's opinion pages, the journalist Daniel Schneidermann warns that it is not enough for us to go on despising the American leader and his Italian or Hungarian counterparts.

It is worse than dangerous for the media to treat these people with knee-jerk sarcasm, says Schneidermann. That is to present only one side of what they represent and to lose sight of the reprehensible underlying policies that could see all of them reelected.

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