“Europe no longer wants to be hostage to a supplier that uses gas as a weapon”, Christophe Lecourtier (Business France)

THE GALLERY – The threat of recession is becoming more apparent across Europe. Where is the French economy at the moment and particularly the attractiveness of France?

CHRISTOPHE LECOURTIER – The situation for the French economy is mixed, but the picture is far from completely black. Job creations Stay dynamic. The morale of business leaders in the industry is improving. Growth should remain positive at the end of the year. The allure of France be faced with difficulties in the international context. Within Europe, France faces the same problematic than most of its neighbours.

However, she has luck having France 2030which informs medium term. This project sets priorities and mobilizes significant resources. More than 50 billion euros is mobilized to promote the development of renewable energy, but also of the health, agri-food industry, etc. France 2030 intended for reduce our dependence on imports and give the French industrial structure a head start.

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How do you see the outlook for next year?

In 2023, the whole world risk of cross an area of ​​turbulence. That is why it is important to plan Besides. As for our neighbors, France is the only one that does to advance this view. Germany faces its dependence on Russian gas and Britain changes its economic policy very often. In the field of energy, France facing a potential trouble i conditions for electricity production but we have many nuclear power plants, which should be back in operation in a few months.

France has too announced the construction new reactors. This vision and these projects will reinforce the will to investors strangers to continue to choose France as their destination favorite. Until October, we notice a small increase in the number of projects potential investment compared to 2021, when it was already a record year.

In a particularly tense geopolitical context, how do you help French companies project themselves internationally?

We help future foreign companies To take part in to this France 2030 strategy. The holes in France’s industrial racket will not all be filled by French companies. Business France intend to give desire for foreign companies to participate in the reindustrialization and, In addition, we help French companies, SMEs and ETIs, to export in greater numbers and more by trusting France’s export team.

In this connectionthe teams by Team France Export, everywhere in France, Help nones companies to define their strategy and select them markets prioritized foreigners for them. Abroad, our teams welcome them and accompany them to meet the right partners. It is a powerful toolwhich works efficiently, as the number of exporters has increased in recent years despite the pandemic. France has 139,000 exporters on its territory compared to 132,000 at the beginning of the previous five-year period. That’s more than in Italy. Although the trade balance is negative due in particular to energy costs, exports are experiencing good momentum. In the first half of 2022, France exported more than in the first half of 2019 before the health crisis.

You recently organized Team France Invest’s second meeting. What are the new priorities in the international attraction strategy of France and its regions?

Industrial sovereignty and re-industrialisation are among the priorities. In particular, this must go through France 2030. There is also a priority axis on the method of working with the regions. vsbowIt is in these areas that the projects land. We have strengthened cooperation with the regions, in order to offer foreign investors a “united front”, pthrough the France Invest teams.

This ” better accompaniment is very specific. It’s about helping companies findis landpof the workforce, the good help for a successful implementation. France Invest belongs be a one-stop-shop for investors strangers.

During a recent speech before the National Assembly’s Economic Commission, you mentioned the subject of land in France. How can this problem be reconciled with the issue of environmental conservation?

The available land in France is not abundant. We have works at identify turnkey locations, i.e. sites with all necessary permits to limit the environmental or archaeological impact. 127 territories have been identified. The companies also mention certain difficulties as a result device for “zero net artificialization” of land.

This implies a better utilization of the wastelands, but it is not always adapted to the needs. It also exists issues of public acceptance of projects that may be polluting. You have to manage to juggle all these parameters and find the right balance. It is necessary to unite the necessary rules, respect for wishes of populations while not refraining from pursuing reindustrialization.

In 2019, France became the leading country in receiving foreign investment in Europe. Is the war in Ukraine likely to put an end to this leadership on the old continent?

France managed to move from third place in 2017 to first place in 2019. We have managed to keep this spot in 2020 and 202and even widening the gap to Germany and Britain. The United Kingdom seems entered an era of economic and political instability. In Germany, the energy issue is very strong in connection with the war in Ukraine and the dependence on Russian gas. Europe, and especially Germany, have understood that they no longer want to be held hostage by a supplier that uses gas as a weapon.

The countries competing with France are in the same boat. At the moment, all countries in Europe are experiencing very high prices Energy. All countries have to deal with inflation and the disorganization of production chains. I am convinced that the winning country will be the country that will be able to present a project for 2030. This is a horizon far enough to hope that the war in Ukraine is over and that inflation is controlled. But it’is a sufficiently narrow horizon for an investor. Investors who come to France invest for sufficiently long periods. This to account for announced development and take advantage of the benefits traditional from the French side. This turbulent period can complicate investment decisions, but not particularly in France. It is not France that is in the eye of the storm.

Does the rise in commodity and energy prices threaten all the efforts being made in terms of reindustrialisation and relocation?

One has to hope that this price increase does not last too long. France must be sufficiently convincing about the France 2030 project for foreign investors continue to take an interest in our territory and want to build the industries of the future with us.

The investors we meet think in the medium term. They are of course sensitive to financial matters, but what guides them in their choice of location are lanes. This is the whole point of France 2030, which outlines this transition of our economy through clearly declared choices.

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In French pharmacies, some medicines are missing. The phenomenon is getting worse, now affecting certain antibiotics and requiring the health authorities to take emergency measures. How to encourage the pharmaceutical industry to repatriate their production to France?

Health is one of the priority sectors in France 2030. The pandemic has shown that France is also dependentespecially from Chinabut not only regarding medicine. Since 2020 hasa France began to repatriate certain elements production chains. Today on constantly struggles to be able to find from here New productswhile looking for one good balance between Iincentives for investors and control of healthcare costs.

Although France cannot be self-sufficient, health is a sufficiently critical sector that efforts can be made to reconstruct or develop an industrial structure in this area. there is a real needwhich justifies the effort so French and foreign manufacturers develop their activities with us. My belief that there is one Work environmentand a support scheme, attractive enoughe.g so these manufacturers remaincoming and develop.

Interview by Grégoire Normand