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Hollande unveils new measures to woo entrepreneurs

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French President François Hollande unveiled a raft of measures on Monday aimed at helping small-business owners in an attempt to boost an economy struggling with the threat of recession and unemployment at over 10 percent.

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French President François Hollande unveiled a raft of measures on Monday aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship in an attempt to boost the nation’s stagnating economy.

Speaking to some 300 small-business owners, Hollande revealed plans to attract more foreign investment as the country struggles with the threat of recession and unemployment at over 10 percent. He said a new "entrepreneur visa" would be created for foreigners seeking to set up an innovative business in France, if they were prepared to invest a "sufficient amount” of money.

Hollande also announced a long-anticipated reform of the capital gains tax   on the sale of company stakes or entire firms   which the government had wanted to raise as part of plans to reduce the public deficit before backtracking on the proposal last year following a revolt by entrepreneurs. He said Monday that business owners would now qualify for an up to 85 percent exemption if they held the stake for at least eight years. Smaller rebates would be offered for shorter periods.

The Socialist president said he would like to set up services to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) export their goods and services abroad, starting with the United States and Asia.

Tax advantages are also under consideration for large companies that invest in start-ups looking to expand abroad.

And the French Public Investment Bank, set up last year to help innovative SMEs, will create a new financing tool for setting up firms in underprivileged areas.

Fleur Pellerin, the junior minister for SMEs, told BFM television that the measures reflected "the way in which we perceive the role that entrepreneurs must play in our society for the success of our country".

The measures were broadly welcomed by business owners. Jean-François Roubaud   head of the CGPME, an employers' organisation that represents SMEs   predicted the measures would elicit “unanimous satisfaction".

The package of measures will be integrated into a draft 2014 budget unveiled in September, with the aim of coming into force in January 2014.
 

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

 

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