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France and United States

Presentation

Political relations

Since President François Hollande’s election in May 2012, France and the USA have maintained a high-quality dialogue based on confidence.

President Obama was one of the first foreign Heads of State to call President Hollande to congratulate him. The President of the French Republic was received at the White House before the G8 Summit in Camp David (18-19 May 2012) and the NATO Summit in Chicago (20-21 May 2012), and he conducted a State visit to the United States of America in 2014 (10-12 February), which was the first by a French president in 18 years. The visit was marked by powerful mutual gestures of friendship and esteem. The French President again visited Washington for a meeting with President Obama on 24 November 2015, and took part in the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit (31 March-1 April) in Washington, on which occasion he also met with President Obama.

President Obama has made several visits to France since his election in 2008. He attended the G8 Summit in Deauville on 27 and 28 May 2011. In 2009, he attended the NATO Summit in Strasbourg and Baden-Baden and the commemoration of the 65ᵗʰ anniversary of the Normandy Landings on 6 June. He also took part in commemorations of the 70ᵗʰ anniversary of the Allied Landings on 6 June 2014, and came to Paris on 30 November 2015 for the opening of COP21. American Vice President Joe Biden met President Hollande in Paris on 4 February 2013.
The American authorities were among the first to show solidarity and offer assistance after the terrorist attacks in 2015.

Cooperation is close, both on regional and security issues and on global issues (economy, nuclear energy, combating climate change).

At parliamentary level, a friendship group – the French Caucus, created in the U.S. Congress in 2003 and made up of around one hundred members – is a key instrument of France-USA relations. Similarly, there are France-US friendship groups in the French National Assembly and Senate.

As of 31 December 2015, 141,942 French nationals were registered in France’s 10 consulates general in the USA (the total French community in the USA is estimated at more than 300,000).

Visits

Visits to France by American authorities

2014

  • 07 January: Mr Jacob Lew, Secretary of the Treasury (meeting with the President of the Republic).
  • 2-13 January: Mr John Kerry, Secretary of State (meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs).
  • 05 March: Mr John Kerry, Secretary of State.
  • 29-31 March: Mr John Kerry, Secretary of State (meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs).
  • 5-6 June: Mr Barack Obama, President of the United States (meeting with the President of the Republic).
  • 13-15 October: Mr John Kerry, Secretary of State (meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development).
  • 4-6 November: Mr John Kerry, Secretary of State (meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development).
  • 20 November: Mr John Kerry, Secretary of State (meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development).

2015

  • 11 January: Mr Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States - 16 January: Mr John Kerry, Secretary of State (meetings with the President of the Republic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development).
  • 8 May: Mr John Kerry, Secretary of State (meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development).
  • 8 May: Mr Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy (meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development).
  • 30 November: Mr Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, during COP21 (meeting with the President of the French Republic).
  • 2 December: Ms Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior.

2016

  • 20 January: Mr Ashton Carter, Secretary of Defense.
  • 13 March: Mr John Kerry, Secretary of State (meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development).
  • 9 May: Mr John Kerry, Secretary of State (meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development).

Visits to the United States by French authorities

2014

  • 24 January: Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence.
  • 10-12 February: Mr François Hollande, President of the French Republic: State visit; Washington; San Francisco.
  • 9-11 March: Ms Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of Women’s rights; 58ᵗʰ session of the Commission on the Status of Women, New York.
  • 10-12 April: Mr Michel Sapin, Minister of Finance and Public Accounts; Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
  • 11-13 May: Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development; Chicago, Washington, D.C.
  • 21-22 May: Mr Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy of the President of the French Republic for the Protection of the Planet; New York.
  • 25-30 June: Ms Fleur Pellerin, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad; New York, Washington, D.C.
  • 6-8 July: Ms Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie; New York.
  • 23-24 September: Mr François Hollande, President of the Republic; UN General Assembly Ministerial Week and Climate Summit in New York.
  • 21-28 September: Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development; UN General Assembly Ministerial Week in New York.
  • 22-28 September: Ms Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie; UN General Assembly Ministerial Week in New York.
  • 2-3 October: Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence; Washington, D.C., New York.

2015

  • 6-7 January: Mr Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector; Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
  • 6-9 January: Ms Axelle Lemaire, Minister of State for the Digital Sector; Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and San Francisco.
  • 8-10 February: Ms Christiane Taubira, Minister of Justice; Washington, D.C. and New York.
  • 18-21 February: Mr Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister of the Interior; Washington, D.C., San Francisco.
  • 16-18 April: Mr Michel Sapin, Minister of Finance and Public Accounts; Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
  • 16-18 April: Mr Michel Sapin, Minister of Finance and Public Accounts; Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
  • 17-19 April: Ms Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie; Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
  • 19-20 April: Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development; Major Economies Forum in Washington, D.C.
  • 8 May: Mr Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad; Worldwide Symposium of the Foreign Trade Advisors of France, Miami.
  • 4-10 June: Ms Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy; ceremonies for the arrival of L’Hermione, Washington, D.C.
  • 21-25 June: Ms Axelle Lemaire, Minister of State for the Digital Sector; San Francisco and New York.
  • 24-26 June: Mr Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector; New York, Boston, Washington, D.C.
  • 25-29 June: Mr Stéphane Le Foll, Minister of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry; Washington, D.C., New York, Ohio.
  • 3-6 July: M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence; New York, Washington, D.C.
  • 3-5 July: Ms Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy; ceremonies for the arrival of L’Hermione, New York.
  • 30-31 July: Ms Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie; UN Security Council debate on peace and security in small island developing States, New York.
  • 26-28 September: Mr François Hollande, President of the Republic; UN General Assembly in New York.
  • 25 September-2 October: Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development; UN General Assembly in New York.
  • 25 September-2 October: Ms Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy; UN General Assembly in New York.
  • Mr Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy of the President of the French Republic for the Protection of the Planet; UN General Assembly in New York.
  • 25 September-2 October: Ms Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie; UN General Assembly in New York.
  • 25 September-2 October: Ms Pascale Boistard, Minister of State for Women’s Rights; UN General Assembly in New York.
  • 24 November: Mr François Hollande, President of the French Republic; Washington D.C., meeting with Mr Barack Obama

2016

  • 6-9 January: Mr Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector; Las Vegas (Consumer Electronics Show) and San Francisco.
  • 7-12 January: Ms Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy; San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
  • 3-5 February: Ms Fleur Pellerin, Minister of Culture and Communication; Los Angeles.
  • 31 March-1 April: Mr François Hollande, President of the French Republic; Washington D.C.; Nuclear Security Summit; meeting with Mr Barack Obama.
  • 13-16 April: Mr Michel Sapin, Minister of Finance and Public Accounts; Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
  • 14-16 April: Ms Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy; Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
  • 15-22 April: Ms André Vallini, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie; Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
  • 18-19 April: Mr Patrick Kanner, Minister of Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport; New York, during the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem.
  • 22 April: Mr François Hollande, President of the Republic; New York, for the signing ceremony of the Paris Climate Agreement
  • 22 April: Ms Ségolène Royal, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs; New York, for the signing ceremony of the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • 4-5 May: Ms Ségolène Royal, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs; New York, for the “Climate Action 2016” event.

Economic relations

Cross-investment

The United States remains the leading destination for French foreign direct investment (stock of €153 billion at the end of 2013). Around 3500 subsidiaries of French companies are established in the United States. They employ over 600,000 people there and their total revenue amounts to over seven times the sum of French exports to the United States. French investment primarily centres on the manufacturing industry (43%), financial services (25%) and the information sector (12%).

Meanwhile, the USA is the leading foreign direct investor in France, with a stock of €114 billion at the end of 2013, and the largest foreign employer. These investments represent more than 300,000 jobs in France. American investments are mostly linked to the manufacturing industry (50%), financial services (26%) and the real estate sector (9%).

Bilateral trade

In 2015, the United States became France’s second-largest customer (having been sixth in 2014 and 2013), while remaining its fifth-largest supplier (outside the EU, it is the largest customer and second-largest supplier). After a stabilization in value of trade between France and the US from 2012 onwards at €59 billion, growth of 14.7% was observed in 2015 compared to 2014, bringing the value of trade to €67.5 billion. The trade gap has fallen for the third year running, to €2.3 billion (compared to €4.1 billion in 2014), its lowest level since 2008, thanks to a considerable increase in our exports (+19.2%, to €32.7 billion) which makes up for the growth of our imports (+10.8%, to €35 billion). Petroleum and hydrocarbon products make up more than 90% of the total bilateral trade deficit, despite a major reduction in our energy bill (-41.9%) due to the fall of energy prices in 2015.

As in previous years, in 2015 the majority of French exports to the USA consisted of transport equipment (29%), mechanical, electrical, electronic and computer equipment (19%), agrifood products (11%), chemical products (10%) and pharmaceuticals (8%). The rise in export particularly concerned aviation deliveries and buoyant sales of drinks and pharmaceuticals, while American demand grew and the Euro was depreciated.

According to US statistics, France slightly improved its market share of American imports in 2015, which now stands at 2.1% (+0.1 percentage point), thus becoming the eighth-largest supplier of the US, having been ninth in 2014.

As regards French imports of American goods, close to three quarters of these consist of transport equipment (31%), mechanical, electrical, electronic and computer equipment (20%), pharmaceuticals (14%), chemicals (9%). After a fall in these imports from 2013 onwards, the rise in 2015 is largely down to the considerable growth in our purchases of transport equipment, particularly in the aviation sector, and pharmaceuticals. It is in line with the overall rise in French imports in 2015.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France’s ties with the United States, our global partner and top scientific partner, are focused on cultural exchanges and support for academic and scientific exchanges, to which our entire research system contributes.

Our action has two main areas of focus:

- Encouraging students to spend time in France and supporting the internationalization policy of our research centres and innovative firms;

France is the fourth most common destination for Americans studying abroad, with more than 800 inter-university agreements in force and 17,000 American students hosted each year. A programme of excellence, the Chateaubriand Fellowship, allows PhD students enrolled in American universities to spend four to nine months in France for their research. In addition, the Benjamin Franklin Travel Grant was set up in 2013 and is awarded each year to around twenty American undergraduate students who combine a major or minor in French with a major in another discipline.

Conversely, around 8300 French students studied in the United States in 2013-2014 (France ranks as the 16ᵗʰ-largest country of origin of international students in the USA).

On 13 May 2014, the Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative was launched, with the aim of doubling student exchanges between France and the USA by 2025, with support from major American higher education associations (Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Institute of International Education) and the Association of International Educators.

The USA is our leading scientific partner: we produced over 12,000 co-publications in 2012, representing more than a quarter of French international co-publications. There are currently seven Franco-American International Joint Research Units, eleven Franco-American International Associated Laboratories of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and several agreements between bodies such as CNRS-DoE, INSERM-NIH, CNES-NASA and ANR-NSF.

In the specific American context of a decentralized higher education system, academic and scientific cooperation centres on a small number of key partnerships:

  • The Partner University Fund (PUF), which was set up in 2007 and has so far funded 70 large-scale partnerships of all types, including joint degrees, research projects and seminars, is set to be succeeded by the new “Jefferson Institute” programme.
  • The Alliance Program, which was set up in 2002 and brings together three French establishments (University of Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne, École Polytechnique and Sciences Po Paris) and Columbia University. It notably supports joint research projects and programmes.
  • The four joint Franco-American endowment funds, created since the early 1990s with the Universities of Berkeley, Stanford and Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which support bilateral scientific or educational projects.

These schemes are accompanied by projects focusing on innovation and technology transfer: the Young Entrepreneur Initiative, a programme to support innovative American start-ups in France; NETVA, a programme for innovative French start-ups, preparing them for and presenting them to American markets; the FATTE+ programme, promoting collaboration between technology transfer systems; and various events and symposiums that aim to showcase French science and build links between young researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs from the two countries. In February 2014 in San Francisco, the President of the French Republic inaugurated the US-French Tech Hub, an incubator for French start-ups, which also has a branch in Boston.

In June 2015, New York became the first city outside France to be awarded the French Tech label.

- Promoting French creative industries in every sector of the cultural and digital industries, as well as the French language.

Our work in the audiovisual sector aims to support the presence of French productions (22 million tickets sold for French films in 2012) and media outlets, paying particular attention to new means of distribution such as VoD, IPTV and mobile telephones. We also promote French expertise in the field of ICT, as regards the production of not only digital content but also infrastructure and software.

The 19 French multidisciplinary centres in American universities are outreach instruments, providing an essential platform to promote our influence nationwide. They receive financial assistance from France to support activities linked to French language and culture and debate.

As regards the promotion of the French language, it remains the second most-studied foreign language, both in schools – including in bilingual sections – and universities, behind Spanish. French language outreach also relies on the network of schools with French programmes (47 establishments, with over 17,000 pupils) and that of the Alliances Françaises (some 100 establishments, two thirds of which provide teaching). The new French bookshop, Albertine Books, located on the premises of the cultural service in New York, was inaugurated in September 2014. It offers a broad selection of works by French and French-language authors, and aims to make French books accessible throughout American territory.

All of these intellectual and cultural exchanges, which contribute to the sharing of ideas, are enhanced by extensive dialogue on global issues with the major American NGOs, foundations and think-tanks.

Updated: 24/05/2016

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