Promoting France’s attractiveness

France’s attractiveness, in brief

France is the fifth-largest global economy and has the second-largest market in Europe.

The French Government is putting in place a great investment plan for 2018-2022 worth €57 billion, aimed at supporting structural reforms that will prepare France for tomorrow’s challenges. €20 billion will be dedicated to speeding up the ecological transition, while €15 billion will be allocated to attracting talent, €13 billion will be invested in strengthening competitiveness through innovation, and €9 billion will be used to foster the creation of digitized government services.

21 foreign companies choose France for new investments every week. France is the fifth-largest global economy and has the second-largest market in Europe. Economic prospects are good, as growth stood at 1.9% in 2017 and should continue at the same rate in 2018.

France is the leading business creator in Europe. In 2016, business creation in France saw its greatest rise since 2010. It takes only 3.5 days to create a business in France, as against 4.5 in the UK and 10.5 in Germany. The French “entrepreneurial intentions” rate is one of the highest in Europe. In 2016, 15.69% of French people aged 18-64 had entrepreneurial intentions for the coming 3 years. With Station F, which aims to become the world’s largest start-up incubator with capacity to host 1,000 start-ups, France is stepping forward as a “Start-up Nation”.

Paris is behind Beijing and Tokyo but above London and New York in the ranking of cities that are home to the most Top 500 businesses’ headquarters (27). There are over 25,000 foreign companies in France where they employ close to 2 million people. They represent 21% of labour in industry and 30% of French exports. France ranks 7th for hourly labour productivity, ahead of Germany (8th) and the UK (18th).

Paris is the European Union’s leading financial centre, managing assets worth €3.6 trillion (1.5 times France’s GDP). It is also the leader in venture capital, raising €2.7 billion. The city is also top of the capital investment market ranking in the EU, with €12.4 billion invested in 1,400 businesses in 2016. Four French banks are in the global banking top 20.

The Government supports innovation and business creation through tax incentives (€6 billion of savings for businesses through the research tax credit – CIR), by facilitating the arrival of international talent (Talent Passport) and through direct investment in research and development (€26 billion already funded). A specific fund for start-ups, managed by Bpifrance, was created in June 2017 with an endowment of €10 billion. The 2018 Finance Act contains a series of measures aimed at lightening the tax burden of businesses and investors: corporate taxation will gradually be reduced from 33.3% to 25% by 2022 for all businesses in France. This measure will bring France to within the European average.

Innovation is now our major competitive advantage internationally. France was home to 51 research and development centres in 2016 (6 more than in 2015), increasingly affirming its central role in the European research and development and innovation economy. With 8,476 patent filings in 2015, France ranks sixth globally for patents. 13 of the 56 Fields Medals laureates have so far been French, meaning France and the USA share the leading position. The French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) is the world’s leading research body (Nature Index 2015).

France invests almost 5% of its GDP in its education system, more than Germany, Italy and Spain. French higher education is world-renowned and attracted 324,000 international students in 2016-2017 (the world’s fourth most popular host country). With 1.6 million scientists and engineers, France ranks third in Europe.

Updated: February 2018

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