« Nuit des Etoiles », May 4, 2007
Introductory remarks by Consul General of France in Chicago, Jean-Baptiste Main de Boissière, at the 2007 Gala Evening « Nuit des Etoiles » of the French-American Chamber of Commerce of Chicago
Chicago, May 4, 2007
Monsieur le Président,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be with you once again for “La Nuit des Etoiles”, organized by the French American Chamber of Commerce in Chicago, to celebrate the extraordinary talents of John Bliven, Managing Director of Areva Transmission & Distribution.
This annual event, which has been held for many years now, symbolizes the very strong economic ties between the United States and France and the great vitality of the French presence in Illinois.
The economic and commercial links between our two countries are extensive, mutually beneficial and continually expanding. It is in each country’s interest to keep facilitating this strong economic partnership, therefore ensuring the stability and openness of our two markets. Last year, in terms of trade, the volume of transactions between France and the United States rose to almost 50 billion euros.
This dynamic is directly linked to the large amount of foreign direct investments on both sides of the Atlantic, which is the backbone of our commercial relationship.
With investments valued at 60 billion dollars the United States is the number one foreign investor in France. These investments have been significant over the last few years and continue to increase. Today there are no less than 2,200 US companies established in France.
On the other hand, France is the 5th largest foreign investor in America. As you may know, there are over 2,500 French subsidiaries operating in the United States. French owned companies employ more than 550,000 workers in the United States and around 90,000 people in the Midwest alone, compared to 600,000 employees of American owned companies in France.
In 2006, Illinois companies created more than 1,000 jobs in France, accounting for no less than 10% of the total number of jobs created by American companies in our country every year. This excellent outcome is largely due to investments from global industrial groups such as Caterpillar or Wrigley, as well as midsize companies such as MacLean Fogg, specializing in ceramics, or Viskase, in casings.
The French presence is increasingly diversifying with the regular arrival of new investors. In the same year, many new French businesses were created in Illinois in various sectors of activity including : auto-parts, information technology, retail distribution,...
The vitality of French investments in the United States is unfailing and is truly a great source of satisfaction.
But our relationship is not limited to trade and investments. Due to the deep and growing level of the integration of our respective economies and societies, France and the United States retain a high level of interdependance within the ongoing development of dynamic partnerships.
Prominent joint ventures are being launched in key sectors, where excellence meets excellence. Two great examples of these pairings are CFM in Cincinnati, a Joint Venture in aircraft engines between General Electric and SNECMA, and the creation of Alcatel-Lucent, a worldwide leader in the field of telecommunications equipment with a Research and Development Institute in Naperville, IIlinois.
This kind of cooperation and initiative is key to the vitality of the relationship between France and the United States. Common interests and actions bind our countries together in economic and political terms. We welcome and support this dialogue fostered by the French American Chambers of Commerce.
The heads of large companies in France and the Midwest are leading the way. They are dedicated advocates of forward-looking policies aiming at addressing the formidable challenges of the century ahead, foremost among them, sustainable development and the protection of our planet. With leadership and vision, our business communities today are actively engaged in finding solutions to environmental issues. Such is the case for Areva, the world leader in nuclear power, whose focus is the development and continuous improvement of reliable technological solutions for CO2-free power generation, and electricity transmission and distribution
In a world where clean energy and the effects of global warming have become top concerns,
I am particularly pleased that this year’s nominee is Mr John Bliven, a top manager at Areva, a French corporation committed to actively expanding and investing in the United States in such an important sector.
Through this event, we also pay tribute to a man with a clear vision who contributes his talents to ensure the success and the development of his company. Mr. Bliven is a shining example in French-American business relations.