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A formidable economy

Beyond luxury brands, rich culture, haute cuisine and joie de vivre, France is a formidable economy that has nurtured global brands in a wide range of industries – from BNP Paribas (banking), AXA (insurance), Total (oil and gas), EDF (energy), Sanofi (pharmaceutical), Renault (automotive), LVMH (luxury goods) and Thales (defense and aerospace).

As Europe's second largest economy and the world's sixth-largest, France continues to assert its economic influence. One of the country's largest companies, Total is also a global leader in the oil and gas industry.

Despite brewing social unrest, which erupted in late 2018 with the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests, France has maintained its economic strength. It is the second-largest economy in the European Union, the sixth-largest in the world and has an export-to-GDP ratio of 30%.

During a meeting with Claudine Serre, Director General of the European American Chamber of Commerce (EACC), we found out that the French way of life and their culture are what attract most people to do business in France.

In terms of bilateral trade, French investment in the United States reached $302 billion last year, with 4,800 French subsidiaries employing 678,000 people. Meanwhile, the United States remains the largest foreign investor in France with FDI amounting to $85 billion and 46,000 U.S. affiliated firms employing 481,400 people.

Even though France is already a developed country with well-established traditional industries, the country is adapting to a global economy in rapid flux. With a young and bold president at its helm, Emmanuel Macron is determined to build a knowledge-based economy and usher in Industry 4.0 through tax incentives and government support.

Clearly, France cannot be ignored. It is a country with a long history of independent thinking and creative innovation, unafraid to break from convention and confident of its ability to build a more progressive economy.

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A nation of engineers and mathematicians

A nation of engineers and mathematicians

By Nhi Corcoran - Feb 19, 2019



France 2019 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

PDF of the printed report

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