France’s attractiveness in figures

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

The government is putting in place a major 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.

An open economy

Twenty-one foreign companies choose France for new investments every week. France is the world’s fifth-largest economy and the second-largest market in Europe. 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 business headquarters (27). There are over 28,000 foreign companies in France, employing 11% of the workforce. They make up 21% of work in industry, 30% of French exports and 21% of domestic R&D expenditure. France ranks 7th for hourly labour productivity, ahead of Germany (8th) and the UK (18th).

In 2017, France attracted 1,298 new foreign investments, creating 33,489 jobs, a 16% increase on 2016 (Report on the International Development of the French Economy 2017).

A nation of entrepreneurs

France is the leading business creator in Europe. France saw a record number of 691,000 start-ups in 2018, buoyed by a 28% increase in micro-enterprises, as well as in regular one-person companies (up 20%). It takes only 3.5 days to create a business in France, compared to 4.5 in the UK and 10.5 in Germany. The French “entrepreneurial intentions” rate is one of the highest in Europe. In 2018, 50% of 18-24 year olds stated that they wanted to set up a company. With Station F, which aims to become the world’s largest start-up incubator with capacity for 1,000 start-ups, France is stepping forward as a “Start-up Nation”.

The government supports innovation and business creation through tax incentives (€6 billion in savings for businesses through the research tax credit – CIR; Young Innovative Company Status), by facilitating the arrival of international talent (Talent Passport) and through direct investment in research and development (€26 billion already funded). In addition, a €10 billion breakthrough innovation fund was set up in 2018. Corporation tax will gradually be reduced from 33.3% to 25% by 2022 for all companies on French territory. This measure will bring France to within the European average. The planned drop in corporation tax in 2019 will only apply to companies with a turnover of under €250 million.

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World renowned infrastructures

France is ranked 7th of 137 economies in terms of the quality of its infrastructure according to the 2017 Global Competitiveness Report. It has the world’s second-longest high-speed rail network.

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 343,000 international students in 2017-2018 (the world’s fourth most popular host country), up 4.5% on the previous year. With 1.6 million scientists and engineers, France ranks third in Europe.

Paris: the European Union’s leading financial centre

With asset management business of €4 trillion (i.e. over 1.5 times France’s GDP), Paris is a global financial centre and the European leader in venture capital with €3.6 billion raised in 2018. 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.

Updated: February 2019