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The World This Week - 29 August 2014

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France

Hollande hosts foreign CEOs in bid to boost French business

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-17

French President François Hollande is hosting the heads of 34 international companies at the Elysée presidential palace on Monday in a bid to boost France’s apparent waning attractiveness to foreign investors.

Chief executives from companies including General Electric, Nestlé, Volvo, Bosch, Intel, Samsung, and Siemens will attend the summit, which has been titled the “Strategic Council for Attractiveness”.

The event will reportedly cover themes such as “the French market and its accessibility, fiscal policy and regulation, and innovation and human capital”.

The event comes after France saw a dramatic decline in foreign investment last year, and Hollande, a Socialist whose popularity has plummeted to new lows, appears eager to show he is tackling the problem head-on.

After the summit, the French president is expected to announce new policies aimed at making France more appealing to international companies.

With France’s economy struggling to gain traction, Hollande has recently been careful to not further alienate the business world. He has already announced cuts in charges for companies in an attempt to boost job creation.

Several members of the president’s administration, like Arnaud Montebourg, the minister for industrial renewal, and Nicole Bricq, the minister for foreign trade, will be in attendance.

France needs to ‘keep up’

The conference unofficially kicked off Sunday night with an informal dinner hosted by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. “Investment is, and has been since the beginning, a priority of my government,” he told his guests, according to his entourage. He also added that his “ambition” was “for France to keep up with the world’s big economic changes”.

After an expected statement the summit around midday Monday, Hollande is expected to visit Novo Nordisk, a Danish diabetes treatment equipment factory in Chartres, outside Paris.

According to the government, France is home to 20,000 foreign companies and subsidiaries, which count, in total, roughly two million employees.

But a UN report published in January showed a 77-percent decline in direct foreign investment in France last year, putting the country at the very bottom of the EU.

Coupled with persistently high unemployment hovering around 11 percent, the dip came as a jolt of bad news – particularly because the global average, according to the UN report, showed a decisive uptick in foreign investment.
 

Date created : 2014-02-17

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