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New French prime minister to focus on saving factory jobs

France’s new prime minister said Saturday his government will focus on keeping French manufacturing jobs and bringing others back to France from lower-wage countries as it tries to dig the country out of deep recession.

Prime Minister Jean Castex made the announcement on his first outing in his new job, to a semiconductor factory near Paris that received extensive government aid to withstand the coronavirus lockdown in France.

He didn't lay out how his government would save jobs, but called for investment in training and new production tools. Castex and President Emmanuel Macron are expected to announce the makeup of the new Cabinet in the coming days.

France's new prime minister Jean Castex arrives for a press conference after he made his first outing in the new job in X-FAB, a semiconductor factory that received extensive government aid to withstand the virus lockdown on its activity in Le Coudray Montceaux, near Paris, Saturday, July 4, 2020. His office chose the X-FAB factory because it's seen as an example of European cooperation and innovation, and the kind of company that will be important to pulling France of out of deep recession and reviving its industrial production. (AP PhotoFrancois Mori)

Its goal will be to work out how "to ensure the return of jobs and the sustainable maintenance of industrial jobs exposed to global competition," Castex told reporters at the X-FAB factory in Le Coudray-Montceaux south of Paris.

The government sees the factory, which makes semiconductors used in cars, phones and other equipment, as an example of European cooperation and innovation.

Before being named prime minister Friday, Castex coordinated France’s strategy for gradually easing lockdown measures and reviving economic activity.

France's new prime minister Jean Castex gives a press conference after he made his first outing in the new job in X-FAB, a semiconductor factory that received extensive government aid to withstand the virus lockdown on its activity in Le Coudray Montceaux, near Paris, Saturday, July 4, 2020. His office chose the X-FAB factory because it's seen as an example of European cooperation and innovation, and the kind of company that will be important to pulling France of out of deep recession and reviving its industrial production. (AP PhotoFrancois Mori)

Newly named Prime Minister Jean Castex, right, applauds outgoing French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe after the handover ceremony in Paris, Friday, July 3, 2020. French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday named Jean Castex, who coordinated France's virus reopening strategy, as the country's new prime minister as the country focuses on reviving an economy hard-hit by the pandemic and months of strict lockdown. (Thomas Samson, Pool via AP)