Foreign trade – Meeting of the Strategic Export Council (2 April 2021)


On 2 April 2021, Mr Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, convened a meeting of the Strategic Export Council, alongside Mr Alain Griset, Minister Delegate for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, attached to the Minister of the Economy, Finance and the Recovery, bringing together representatives of French Regions, members of parliament, public and private export actors, and industry representatives, in order to take stock of the implementation of the export stimulus plan half a year after its launch.

The meeting, held by videoconference, concerned the deployment of the various measures of the export dimension of the France Relance recovery plan, their ownership by all export actors, and their suitability for the current needs of companies: personalized exporter accounts, e-showcases, export stimulus cheques, international corporate volunteering (VIE) cheques, international volunteers dedicated to supporting export sectors, financing tools, and the France brand. It noted the resilience of France’s exporters: in January 2021, exports of French products had practically returned to January 2020 levels.

Following on from the previous meeting in November last year, the Ministers Delegate encouraged companies to make full use of the measures under the export stimulus plan and additional initiatives by Regions to seize international opportunities.

For its part, Team France Export undertook to continue publicity campaigns, strengthen support around certain new measures such as prospection support insurance (APA), and pursue development of digital tools.

The Government and Team France Export remain committed to providing targeted, effective responses to the needs and demands of companies expanding abroad, adapting existing instruments where necessary.

As of 2 April, more than 3,000 export stimulus cheques, covering up to 50% of the cost of international expansion support services for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-caps, have been granted since their launch on 1 October 2020, totalling more than €5 million. Some 95% of these cheques have gone to SMEs and very small enterprises.
The Government is also taking action for young people by contributing funding for the recruitment and renewal of international corporate volunteers (VIE) through VIE cheques. Since the launch of the VIE cheques on 1 December at an event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the VIE programme, some 300 young people have benefited, with particular attention for those from disadvantaged urban areas or who have received less training. Despite the difficulties in deploying volunteers to several priority areas given the public health crisis, the Government is determined to ensure more young people can seize the VIE opportunity for initial experience abroad while helping our companies tap into foreign markets.
To enable the smallest companies to share the risks of prospection and cover financing needs, the Government and Bpifrance launched prospection support insurance (APA) in early February. This new measure for very small enterprises supplements prospection insurance, the financial conditions of which have been boosted in 2021 to better secure cash flow and consolidate export procedures for beneficiary SMEs.