ROSE, BLANC, ET BLEU - BASTILLE DAY LUNCHEON
Chicago (IL), le 14 juillet 2010. Discours prononcé par le Consul général de France à l’occasion du déjeuner "Rosé, Blanc et Bleu - Bastille Day Luncheon" de la Chambre de Commerce franco-américaine de Chicago
Chicago (IL), July 14, 2010. Speech given by the Consul General of France in the occasion of "Rosé, Blanc et Bleu, a Bastille Day Luncheon", event organized by the French-American Chamber of Commerce - Chicago Chapter.
On this Bastille Day, my message will be very simple : Times are changing. These changes come with risks but also with opportunities.
I. Times are changing in France :
I know that, if you look at the surface, you have the impression that France is almost the same : a nice country with good food, good wine, a top tourist destination, but shy to confront globalization and offering few opportunities for business.
I will challenge that approach :
- France is the 5th largest economy in the world and the second largest in Europe.
- France is fifth in the world and second in Europe for the number of international patents.
- France was the third largest recipient of Foreign Direct Investment in 2009. With 82 Billion Euros in stocks, the US remains the first foreign investor in France.
- 38.5 % of the French stock exchange’s benchmark is owned by Foreign investors.
- the French economy, compared to others, has been very resilient, thanks to a strong private consumption. The growth rate was negative 2.2 in 2009 (Germany negative 5 %) and should reach 1.3 in 2010. It’s not spectacular but it’s on the right track.
The economic landscape and the conditions to do business are changing and the reforms implemented are aiming at :
more flexible working hours, abolition of the local business tax on productive investment, more investment in higher education and innovation (France has today the most attractive research tax credit in Europe), development of 71 innovation clusters associating universities, enterprises and research centers, promotion of a new “green economy”.
II. Times are also changing in Europe.
Since the Lisbon Treaty took effect on December 1st, 2009, there is a new institutional structure in place. The EU currently finds itself in a learning process since it involves new regulations and directives. The financial and the economic crisis is another challenge. It’s clear that the EU, and especially the Eurozone, does not have the instruments to manage a “bad weather” situation. Some emergency responses were designed to support the banking system and help countries with huge public deficits. Now, the EU is trying to define a coherent and sustainable response to the sovereign debt crisis and to promote a smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth. The recent crises have underlined the interdependence and vulnerability of the Member States and the Eurozone. The main lesson we have learned is that the Eurozone and the EU economies need to be strengthened.
For France, this means continual implementation of structural reforms in order to reduce the public deficit from 8 % in 2010 to 6 % in 2011 and 3 % expected in 2013. The pension reform currently under discussion is also part of the solution. We must achieve massive cuts without damaging growth ; otherwise deficits will rise further and undermine the basis of the economy.
In conclusion, I would like to point out that the Euro-Atlantic partnership provides a stable anchor in this changing environment. 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.