Paris financial centre is one of the most dynamic in the world - Minister
Foreign trade – United Kingdom/economic attractiveness – Interview given by M. Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to L’Opinion.fr
Paris, 25 November 2020
Q. – In 2019, the number of new British investment projects in France shot up 46%. How is this trend developing?
THE MINISTER – Whilst we still lack precise figures for 2020, we note that this trend is continuing, even though there’s been a slight slowdown and a few postponements. If we look at the period 2016-2019, British investment in our country grew by 45%, whereas the number of foreign projects into Britain declined by 20%. It wasn’t just Brexit which played a part. In 2019, France attracted the largest number of foreign investment projects in Europe. Since I took office five months ago, particularly during my visits to Europe, Africa and the United States (in virtual format), I’m able to see for myself every day France’s attractiveness to foreign investors thanks to the policy conducted by the President since 2017.
Q. – Out of 173 British projects completed in 2019, 23 are identified with Brexit. What opportunities are resulting from this?
THE MINISTER – Many British and non-European businesses need to maintain direct access to European Union markets in 2021. They’re transferring activities to France or opening subsidiaries there. Some international – American or Asian – companies, wishing to gain a foothold in the European Union, now prefer France to Britain. This is particularly the case for players in the financial sector. Finally, there’s the relocation of French companies’ activities. The Total Group has moved its cash management department back to Paris from London. This trend must be amplified.
Q. – German and Italian investors make up a significant share of the industrial projects. What about the British?
THE MINISTER – This will be clearer at the start of 2021. Manufacturers are taking long-term decisions and waiting to find out what the regulatory framework governing relations between the UK and European Union will be like, before taking a position. We have high hopes when it comes to car manufacturers, particularly Japanese ones, who will see their production lines hit hard, whatever the outcome of the negotiations. There are also detailed discussions with tech industry players, who are going to find it genuinely difficult to access international talent in London. American players, such as Headspace recently, are now choosing France as their number one European location. Overall, we very clearly predict an acceleration of projects from the UK at the end of the year, and a definite increase next year. The financial sector will probably be at the forefront of this trend.
Q. – The Paris financial centre is in competition with Frankfurt. What’s the score?
THE MINISTER – Paris has already recovered €150 billion in assets and 2,300 associated jobs, according to the Banque de France. At the beginning of October, 74 relocation decisions had been endorsed. The authorities have already given 43 approvals and are processing 31 files. Included are banks, such as Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, investment companies such as BlackRock and insurance companies such as Chubb. Paris is acclaimed for its complete financial ecosystem and the quality of our skills. It is also one of the most dynamic in the world, with real gems of innovative start-ups, for example in the green economy and digital finance.
Q. – In this complicated period, are the big foreign bosses still interested in the French economy?
THE MINISTER – More than ever. At the beginning of November, the President launched a webinar series, “Choose France”, to explain France’s crisis response to the big foreign bosses, and they’re all stepping up. Between now and the end of the month, with my relevant ministerial colleagues, sector by sector, I’ll be meeting nearly 80 potential investors. The very good response rate to registrations for the annual Choose France summit, which will be held with all the required health precautions in Versailles in January, confirms the interest leaders and investors have in France as a site: its regions, skills, creativity, quality of life and infrastructure./.