The tools of economic diplomacy


For the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, economic diplomacy is a top priority. For this reason, the Businesses and Global Economy Directorate was created on 1 March 2013. It was renamed the Economic Diplomacy Directorate on 1 January 2019. This Directorate, which is also responsible for promoting tourism, is the Ministry’s point of contact for businesses, major groups and SMEs. It ensures that their interests are taken into consideration during negotiations likely to impact their activities, especially issues relating to global economic regulation.

This “soft diplomacy” is not limited to economic actors. It also involves scientific, technical and cultural services, development policy services, and France’s expertise abroad, through the Expertise France agency.

The Economic Diplomacy Directorate

The Directorate works with other relevant Ministry directorates and administrations to define and implement France’s economic diplomacy initiatives in a coordinated manner. It steers the sectoral monitoring of export businesses. It coordinates the work of those responsible for unifying priority sectors for export, and provides support to geographical directorates which back the activities of special representatives for economic diplomacy. It oversees agencies working in the fields of economic diplomacy (Business France) and tourism promotion (Atout France). It supports the international development of French businesses, and helps boost the attractiveness of France for international economic actors. It contributes to economic analyses of globalization and the definition of related regulations and governance at the European and international levels.

Economic diplomacy in the security/defence field

In June 2014, the Security and Defence Cooperation Directorate (DCSD) created the Business Liaison Section (SLE) in order to contribute towards France’s economic diplomacy strategy. This section is the main contact point for the MEAE’s economic partners involved in the security/defence aspects of French cooperation.

Its goal is to support the export activities of French businesses working in the security/defence field, by giving them access to the DCSD’s network of cooperation officers and experts around the world.

For this, the SLE has two new tools: firstly, a business benchmark, which contains information on the international presence and goods and services of all French businesses, which is distributed to the French diplomatic network; and, secondly; a cooperation agreement, a new technical and legal tool designed to develop and formalize ties with businesses.

The importance of cultural, scientific and technical cooperation in economic diplomacy

The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs has an extensive network of French cultural services and establishments abroad. It promotes French economic diplomacy through this network.

Special attention is paid to strengthening links between cultural action and economic interests, through sponsorships, partnerships between businesses and the Institut Français, and improved synergies between major cultural communication events and the local communication concerns of French businesses.

France would like to develop its scientific and technological cooperation mechanisms. In addition to scientific monitoring, it connects French competitive clusters with research and development (R&D) clusters abroad to promote economic cooperation in the form of joint R&D projects, joint ventures, and so on.

Updated: 29 January 2019