France and United States

Presentation

Political relations

The United States is one of France’s major allies and our cooperation is particularly strong in efforts to counter terrorism. France is a leading contributor to the Global Coalition against Daesh and the United States provides significant support to Operation Barkhane in the Sahel region, estimated at €35 million a year. The quality of the French armed forces is recognized within the Trump Administration, which is made up of many high ranking military officers who hold the work of the French armed forces in high esteem. France’s firm efforts to fight proliferation are likewise appreciated. Quality French-American relations foster quality dialogue on issues where differences of opinion may exist, for example, when it comes to tackling climate change.

Large-scale ceremonies to commemorate the long-standing alliance of our two countries were held in recent years, with celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the D-day Landings in Normandy on 6 June 2014, with Barack Obama in attendance, and the commemorations on 14 July 2017 of the centenary of the United States’ entry into World War One, with Donald Trump in attendance.

In the United States, people have a positive image of France, as the American press followed the French presidential campaign with interest. According to a survey conducted in February 2016, France ranked third among countries with a positive image in the United States, with 87% positive opinions.

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 of American prominent public figures to France

2017:

  • 13-14/07: Donald and Melania Trump visited Paris and participated in the July 14 military parade and commemoration of the United States’ entry into World War One.
  • 8/12: U.S. Secretary of State visited Paris and met with the Foreign Minister and President Macron.

Visits of French authorities to the United States

2017:

  • 26-30/06: Mounir Mahjoubi, Minister of State for the Digital Sector visited New York
  • 28-30/06: Bruno Le Maire, Ministry for the Economy, visited New York
  • 18-20/09: President Macron visited New York for the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, accompanied by the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State for the Digital Sector
  • 30-31/10: The Foreign Minister visited New York when France held the presidency of the Security Council
  • 18/12: Minister’s visit to Washington D.C.

Reminders:

  • 28 January: President Macron held a telephone meeting with President Donald Trump
  • 3 February: The Foreign Minister held a telephone meeting with Rex Tillerson
  • 15 February: The Defence Minister met with General Mattis
  • 16 February:The Foreign Minister met with Rex Tillerson (in Bonn)
  • 21-22 March: Meeting of the foreign and defence ministers of the Global Coalition against Daesh
  • 5-6 April: Meeting of NATO foreign ministers
  • 6 April: The Defence Minister met with General Mattis (on the sidelines of the ceremony commemorating the centenary of the United States’ entry into war in Kansas City)
  • 10-11 April: Meeting of the G7 foreign Ministers (Lucca)
  • 25 May: NATO Summit (back-to-back with the G7 Summit)
  • 26-27 May: G7 Summit (Taormina)
  • 7-8 July: G20 Summit (Hamburg)
  • UNGA week (September)
  • 30-31 October: The Foreign Minister visited New York for the closing of the French Presidency of the UNGA
  • 8 December: Conference on Lebanon
  • 18 December: The Foreign Minister visited Washington D.C.

Economic relations

The United States is the leading destination of French foreign direct investment outside of the European Union. France ranks fifth among foreign direct investors in the United States, with 8% of FDI stock, and the United States is the leading foreign investor in France. These exchanges are responsible for a significant number of jobs: the 4,800 subsidiaries of French companies employ 575,000 people in the United States and France is the second largest source of job-generating FDI (96,000 recorded at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis) in the United States. Vice versa, the 4,600 subsidiaries of American companies employ approximately 444,000 people in France.

Trade in goods and services between our two countries totals an estimated $120 billion per year (Eurostat). Trade in the areas of energy and aeronautics accounts for a third of overall trade. French exports of goods stood at €32.6 billion in 2016 and are expected to increase in 2017. The main areas of export are aeronautics, luxury goods (textiles, perfume, wine and spirits), chemicals and agrifood (French Customs).

R&D is a leading sector for investment. The United States is the number one investor in R&D in France (16% of R&D investment of foreign investment according to MENESR) and vice versa, French companies invest €7 billion in R&D a year, or 12% of foreign R&D. In 2015, some 421 patents were registered by French companies in the United States and 212 by American companies in France. Some 81% of American investors consider France to be an attractive destination in the digital sector according to the American Chamber of Commerce. This economic trade has been developed further with a partnership in the area of innovation.

France’s appeal to American companies has increased considerably. According to the American Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 barometer report, more than 75% of American investors have a very positive outlook for France’s economic future and more than 50% American investors are considering employing more people in France in the next two to three years (versus 21% in 2015). Some 21% of American investors interviewed said that they recommended France as a place to invest (only 3% did in 2016).

In 2015, some 1,915,000 French people visited the United States and 3,169,000 American tourists visited France.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

French-American cooperation in scientific, academic and cultural matters is flourishing and France is working to increase student exchanges, scientific cooperation and bilingualism. France is the fourth most popular destination for American university students, with some 17,000 students studying in France every year (50% of them in short-term programmes). The Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative signed in 2014 aims to double the French-American mobility flows by 2025.

The United States is France’s number one scientific partner (more than 16,000 co-publication in 2016) and France is the United States’ fifth biggest scientific partner. Academic cooperation programmes such as Fulbright, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2018 and Benjamin Franklin scholarships, will play a full role in this relationship. The creation of joint laboratories has enhanced our ties; seven joint international units have been established. Our research institutions also sustain strong partnerships, particularly with the National Institute of Health and the Department of Energy. The CNES and NASA have emblematic partnerships when it comes to space.

With regard to bilingualism, French is the sixth most spoken language in the United States and the second most studied language in the public education system (1.25 million students) and at universities (200,000 students). The development of immersion schools is particularly active with 25,000 students in more than 150 schools.

With regard to culture, the United States is still the main promoter of culture internationally and France is working in close cooperation with Americans to promote and develop the wealth and the vitality of our contemporary creativity. France is now working in the United States in a network of 110 Alliançes Françaises (including 73 offering French courses).

Updated: 18 December 2017

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