Economic diplomacy - Q&A - Excerpts from the daily press briefing (21.07.17)

Q - With respect to foreign trade, what “practical” reforms are you considering in order to “correct tangible things”and do you have a timetable for clarifying these proposals?

A - As the minister underscored in his interview to the daily newspaper Les Echos, in order to foster an export culture and help French export firms, of which there are still too few, especially in comparison with our European competitors (125,000 compared with twice as many in Italy and three times as many in Germany), we need simplicity in order to be more effective.

The minister believes that this means simplifying export support mechanisms both in France, where firms should be able to benefit from a one-stop support center in regional areas, as well as abroad where embassies should coordinate the work of export operators.

The minister will receive the regional chairs together with Philippe Richert, Chairman of the Association of French Regions, in September in order to develop a collaborative approach between the government and the regions in this field.

In September, he will also receive the coordinators of the seven priority export sectors (health, the agri-food sector, the tourism industry, cultural and creative industries, sustainable cities, emerging technologies and renewable energy) which were established by his predecessors in order to assess what adjustments are needed to make their efforts, which should be in line with the professional associations, more effective. The minster indicated we should not rule out the addition of new sectors. Indeed, this approach which is based on sectors of excellence has won the favor of export stakeholders because it helps identify the domestic obstacles that are hampering the export goals of firms and makes it possible to remedy these problems. It brings together firms operating in complementary areas so that they can tackle export markets together, perhaps even compete for bundled contracts, and it encourages large groups to sponsor SMEs.

Lastly, the minister is also keen to ensure that the public mechanism to support the internationalization of companies remains accessible to SMEs and that the use of the Volunteers for International Experience (VIE) program, which has proven to be effective, is further expanded. These guidelines will be given to the new Directorate-General of Business France which should soon be established and which should implement the reforms put forward by the minister.

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