FETE DE LA BASTILLE AT THE FRENCH-AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Détroit (MI), le 15 juillet 2010. Discours prononcé par le Consul général à l’occasion de la "Fête de la Bastille" de la Chambre de Commerce franco-américaine de Détroit.
Detroit (MI), July 15, 2010. Speech given by the Consul General on the occasion of "Fête de la Bastille" the Bastille Day celebration of the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Detroit Chapter.
I am glad to be with you to celebrate Bastille Day, the French national Day, along with Robert Weyhing, the energetic Honorary Consul of France in Detroit.
All over the world, Bastille Day is a very special time for joy and celebration of Freedom, justice, and fraternity, values that France and the United States have shared since the 18th century. Perhaps, you know that the remaining key of the Bastille’s fortress is not in France but at Mount Vernon. It was a gift and a testimony of gratitude that La Fayette sent to Washington. The US and France, children of the “Age of Enlightenment”, have a lot in common. Detroit is a good example of that.
Founded in 1701 by a Frenchman, Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac, the city has a French name and remains of a great interest to France. For many years, Detroit, also known as the “motor city” has symbolized the power of the American manufacturing industry. Today, Detroit exemplifies the impact of the crisis on this strategic sector. A lot of French enterprises and subsidiaries have settled there, a lot of French Citizens are living in the Detroit area, contributing to making it a great and attractive international city.
I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the impressive work of the Alliances françaises, the French school, the French-American Chamber of Commerce, and the various French associations present in the region. Along with our Honorary Consul and our Trade office, they are doing a wonderful job promoting France, French culture, economy and technology, as well as French-American exchanges and cooperation.
It’s clear that Detroit faces the challenge to reinvent itself, to find new ways to create jobs and stop the depression spiral. It’s tough, but Detroit has many assets that should help her out of the crisis : a vibrant cultural scene, top universities, a unique expertise in many technological fields, as well as hardworking and well trained people. Already, the situation is improving with new ideas and new investments in new and alternative technologies and products such as electric batteries.
Despite present difficulties, the confidence of the French community in the future of Detroit remains intact. About 150 French enterprises are active in the Detroit area and some French citizens are playing a key role in current developments. I would like to give you just two examples, taken in the automotive business. First is Olivier François, the new head of marketing at Chrysler, who is contributing to rebrand one of the big three (by the way, I do remember that there was a Chrysler factory in my hometown of La Rochelle). Second, is Xavier Mosquet, who won an award as “turnaround consultant of the year 2010” for his work on the restructuration of GM and Chrysler.
The economic relationship between France and the US is particularly strong. With 82 Billion Euros in stocks, the US remains the first foreign investor in France. Today, there are no less than 4,200 US companies established in France. On the other hand, France is the 5th largest foreign investor in the United States. There are over 2800 French subsidiaries operating in this country. French owned companies employ more than 550,000 workers in the United States and around 90,000 people in the Midwest alone.
This strong bilateral relation develops itself in the broader framework of the Euro-Atlantic partnership. The first destination for the US exports and investments is Europe and the first destination for the EU exports and investments is the US. For US exports, the European Market represents five times the size of the Chinese Market. In my humble opinion, the case for transatlantic dialogue and partnership is stronger than ever. Together, let’s face the challenges ahead.