The Franco-British Chamber had the pleasure of welcoming Alexia Pestre from Business France as guest speaker for the Chamber’s October SME Breakfast. Ms Pestre discussed the attractiveness of France as a hub for foreign investment as well as the role of Business France as a promoter and facilitator of international investments in France. A number of key statistics were of particular interest, including that France boasts the 6th largest economy in the world, is the 2nd largest market in Europe and ranks 7th globally for inward foreign direct investment (FDI) stocks.
France was identified as an attractive and competitive location for its human capital and qualified workforce, low operating costs, infrastructure and innovative economy. It is recognized as having one of the most productive and highly qualified workforces in Europe. The country also ranks higher than its major partners for ease of business creation, with Paris recognised as the 2nd largest city in Europe for foreign financial institutions (500 institutions) and thus a major financial centre.
According to Ms Pestre, many companies are choosing France to coordinate their African strategies because of its high level infrastructures and connections. France has the largest high-speed rail network in Europe, ranks 1st for ease of cross-border trade (World Bank, Doing Business, 2015) and is the main airline hub for Africa with 30 African airlines servicing 30 African countries.
The role of the French government in facilitating and promoting investment was also discussed. Ms Pestre highlighted a number of strategic plans being implemented by the Government, including the following key programmes: Investing for the Future (€47bn), high-speed internet development programme (€20bn) and Industrial Renaissance (€3.5bn). She also discussed the ‘French Tech’ initiative (€215mil) for accelerating French start-ups and digital companies and attracting talented foreigners to develop their start-up projects in France. The number of reforms to French law and the future of foreign investment in France was also highlighted. Ms Pestre finally concluded by highlighting the attractiveness of France for its quality of life, beauty, culture and unique heritage.
Next month we will be welcoming Paul Taylor, Deputy Director for International Trade and Investment. You can sign up here.