THE BLOG
04/30/2013 11:00 am ET Updated Jun 30, 2013

Doing Things Right

Did you know that the country which coined the word cliché is also the land of the word entrepreneur? So let's get the facts straight: France is an attractive, profitable and business friendly country for investors. American investments in France grew by 5% in 2012, the best performance registered in the last 5 years. That's 156 projects, on top of the 4,162 US companies already present in France. We have every reason to welcome these investment decisions, as they illustrate our country's openness to foreign businesses: France ranks first, before the United States, Germany and Japan in FDI -- GDP ratio. Yet, this is not a coincidence. Every year, seven hundred foreign companies decide to invest in France, a country that offers world-class infrastructure, a highly skilled and productive workforce and unimpeded access to five hundred million consumers within the European Union and beyond.

Today, France wants to do more and better, and run the extra mile. We want to attract even more investments and strengthen our economic ties with our partners, including America, by developing business opportunities for large and small companies that are considering investing in our country. To reach that objective, we have set ourselves a concrete, demanding and innovative path.

Under the leadership of President Hollande and Prime Minister Ayrault, my government is fighting to consolidate the eurozone and to reform its governance. We are putting our public accounts in order to relieve taxpayers -- citizens and businesses -- from the burden of the economic crisis. Since our new administration came into office, six laws have been adopted in order to get our finances straight, in particular to manage the sustainability of a debt that grew by 600 billion euros in five years under the previous administration. Without this proactive action, the public deficit would have hit a new high in 2012. Instead, and despite the adverse economic situation, we managed to reduce it significantly with a structural effort amounting to 1% of our GDP. In 2013, we are increasing this effort with an exceptional 2% reduction in our structural deficit. An unprecedented effort aimed at government modernization is currently being undertaken. All public policies are being scrutinized and inefficient spending will be slashed. France is reducing its public spending responsibly, balancing the need for steadfast budgetary consolidation and the need for growth.

France takes its competitiveness and attractiveness seriously. Our fundamental basis is rock solid: our workforce's hourly productivity ranks fourth in Europe. Our labor costs are lower than in Germany, the Netherlands and Japan. However, since 2002, our trade balance has deteriorated. To curb this trend, France is implementing a National Pact for Competitiveness, which includes a sharp decline in labor costs through already operational fiscal incentives amounting to 20 billion euros. That's 1% of our GDP.

The Pact also includes 34 other measures to implement a thorough overhaul of the business environment. We are slashing paperwork and tackling bureaucracy through administrative simplification, conducted in partnership with stakeholders based on a user-centered approach. We are reforming the financing of our economy; this is crucial in order to ensure the development of businesses, large and small, notably through the creation of a Public Investment Bank. We are reforming the banking sector and the taxation of savings and extending our generous R&D fiscal support mechanisms to new companies. It is not a coincidence if the University of Stanford announced this month that it would settle its European campus in France: we welcome this extremely significant initiative.

Taking competitiveness seriously is also about reforming the labor market. Under the auspices of the French government, an effective social dialogue between unions and industry representatives has led to an agreement that will provide companies with a better legal framework and greater flexibility thus enabling them to adapt to economic slowdowns while securing career paths for employees. All these measures have a clear purpose: to ensure growth by reinforcing France's attractiveness and by strengthening all producers in France to help them succeed in global markets.

Investing in France is not only about offering its employees one of the best qualities of life and the best health systems in the world. It is about providing its companies with a world-class transportation network, a low cost green energy supply, a secure legal and fiscal working framework and a leading digital environment with the development of ultra high-speed Internet for businesses. It is also about providing access to a highly skilled and productive workforce, be it from France's top notch education system or abroad, through our foreign professional and academic talents welcome program. It is also the opportunity to take better advantage of the future Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

America and France treasure their friendship and share common values: we never give up in the face of adversity. Tomorrow, if the negotiations that are about to begin on the TTIP are successful, we will build together with our European partners the largest trade area in the world. Today, France is doing things right and putting its words into action. Every week, more than a dozen new foreign companies decide to invest in France. Every day, in the face of a challenging global environment, France is creating business opportunities and putting all its energy into developing its strengths and proving 20,000 foreign companies right: companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Fedex that have chosen France. Join them.