Strong U.S.-France Relationship Good for Global Economy

As the world continues to recover from the Great Recession and further unites against global threats to our security and the safety of our citizens, the importance of growing and bolstering the global economy is an increasing priority for many nations. It is a logical conclusion for those who recognize that an invigorated economic foundation is vital and is in the best interest of the entire planet.

In that light, France has made it a top priority to create an environment that is welcoming to business--whether startups or established, French created or multinational. To shine a spotlight on the latter, Business France recently released its "2015 Annual Report: Foreign Investment in France--The International Development of the French Economy." Findings from the report demonstrate that the efforts we are making in France to attract foreign business are working. For example, in 2015 we saw a 27 percent increase in jobs generated by foreign investment over 2014 figures, and 53 different countries invested in 2015, up from 47 in 2014. Broadly, we have 19 new investment decisions per week. As a reminder, 20,000 foreign companies are operating in France and employing almost 2 million people.

Though European countries accounted for 60 percent of all foreign investment decisions, the U.S. remained the leading source country, accounting for 18 percent of the total and responsible for one-quarter of all inward R&D investments. Intel for example which designs and builds the essential technologies that serve as the foundation for the world's computing devices, has decided to open two research and development centers in France. France and the U.S. have long had a strong and prosperous relationship, and France continues to value the many great attributes the U.S. has to offer--its business opportunities being near the top of that list, along with the warm friendship the two countries have shared for centuries and a mutual emphasis on creativity. (And, in fact, our great push for creativity is a primary driver of many of France's competitive advantages in growing its own business and in drawing foreign industry into its borders.)

Though foreign companies invested primarily in production/manufacturing operations in France, last year saw many groundbreaking transactions for U.S. businesses in the French tech sector. First, Facebook made the monumental decision to choose Paris as the location for its first artificial intelligence research center outside of the U.S. But that was, by far, not the only major U.S. investment in our country. Also choosing Paris, Alexion Pharmaceuticals will bring us its first research lab outside of the U.S., dubbing it the Alexion R&D Center, Paris. Concordia Fibers, with a client base primarily in the aerospace sector, will build its first production facility outside of the U.S. in our Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine region. And Matter, an incubator for health and e-health startups, has partnered with Paris City Council's network of health-sector incubators in order to provide easier access to the European market for American health startups, to attract European companies to Matter's home city of Chicago, and to encourage even greater interaction and collaboration between health-sector startups from our two countries.

It is interesting to note the increase in activity in the tech/STEM sectors--and know that this is no accident. France has been making fantastic strides to open its doors to digital startups, tech and STEM companies and, in fact, innovators of all stripes. Just look at Bloomberg's 2015 Innovation Index, in which France ranks ninth overall, with very robust showings in R&D, high-tech companies and number of patents, among other measures. France ranks also third in the world and first in Europe in the Top 100 Global Innovators index of Thomson Reuters in 2015 with 10 French corporations listed.

France is a nation long renowned for its creativity in such sectors as gastronomy, design, scientific and mathematical exploration, and it has extended that propensity for the creative to even more fields--industry, biotech, digital and many, many more. Our recent positive results in attracting businesses can be linked not just to political and macro-trends toward globalization but also to this strong focus on creativity and innovation.

Our vigorous presence at CES in Las Vegas for the past several years is a good indicator of how France is sending a loud and clear message that innovation is very high on our list of goals to ensure that we continue to grow as an international hub for multinational businesses. Additionally, the French government has set policies and created programs that demonstrate its support for making France's business environment welcoming for innovative startups and established companies. It's been a strategy that French officials, business leaders and policy makers have all rallied behind, and we're beginning to see the fruits of their labor.

As the results of our report prove out, international investment in France is strong and continues to grow. And with the continued collaboration of U.S. companies, in particular, with whom we feel a kinship, we can work together to further stabilize and grow the global economy--for the benefit of all.