At today’s meeting of the French Council of Ministers, Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and Emmanuel Macron, Minister for the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs, set forth their intentions to enhance France’s attractiveness to investors in the wake of the Strategic Attractiveness Council meeting on October 19, 2014. As part of the forthcoming changes, the IFA is preparing to merge with Ubifrance.
A government bill to enhance France’s attractiveness
The French government is to draft a “Business Bill” to encourage greater economic activity by both French and foreign companies established in France. The measures this bill will provide for will include authorizing Sunday and evening store opening, renewed social dialogue, and simplifying administrative procedures. Investments will be further secured through the implementation of a charter concerning non-retroactivity for tax issues.
IFA + Ubifrance: a merger for greater effectiveness
To ensure the success of the French government’s policy in this field, the Invest in France Agency and Ubifrance, the French agency for international business development, will be merged as of January 1, 2015. The new combined agency will be responsible for ensuring the effectiveness of government policy to promote France’s international economic influence, both in helping French companies expand abroad and in attracting foreign investment. Implementation of policy in this field will therefore become simpler, clearer and more effective. The new agency will also work closely with France’s diplomatic network, which is one of the largest in the world.
Three key stakeholders to be targeted
- Sovereign wealth funds. With a view to consolidating the standing of Paris as an international financial center and facilitating networking with major players in the French economy, an “Institutional Investors Roundtable” (IIR), bringing together the long-term international investors community, will be established in Paris. This new body will foster the development of joint investment funds between these investors and the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (French government investment fund).
- International talent wishing to invent, invest, manufacture and work in France. The “Talent Passport” will make it easier for researchers, business founders and multinational executives to set themselves up in France, while the tax system for expatriates will see its eligibility extended to all employees changing position within the same corporation, with a view to attracting multinational headquarters.
- Foreign tourists. With the aim of rapidly meeting a target of 100 million foreign tourists per year, the 30 measures announced following the Assises du tourisme round table of tourism stakeholders will be implemented to boost this strategic sector. These will include the opening of France’s major cultural attractions seven days a week, and measures to attract major international film shoots.
Promoting France as an investment location
Muriel Pénicaud, Chairman and CEO of the IFA, reminded her audience at the Strategic Attractiveness Council on October 19, 2014, that “perceptions are very often more negative than reality”. To address this issue, a wholescale review is to be launched to improve how France is perceived among influential international decision-makers.