Visite du Ministre de l’Economie et des Finances, M. Bruno Le Maire, à New York
Bruno Le Maire a effectué une visite de deux jours du 28 au 29 juin pour convaincre les acteurs de la finance américaine de venir investir en France. Il s’est entretenu avec les dirigeants de grands fonds d’investissement (BlackRock, Paulson. Co, Lazard, KKR) ainsi que de trois banques américaines (Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, JP Morgan) afin de vanter l’attractivité de la place de Paris.
Le ministre s’est rendu à la nouvelle boulangerie française Maison Kayser, sur la 5e avenue (au niveau de la 36e rue). Il s’est ensuite exprimé devant le prestigieux Economic Club of New York, qui compte parmi les membres les plus influents des milieux d’affaires américains. Pendant près d’une heure et demie, en anglais, le ministre de l’Économie a exhorté les investisseurs à venir en France.
Il a détaillé les principales mesures du gouvernement pour renforcer l’attractivité de la France (réforme du droit du travail, simplification fiscale et administrative, amélioration de l’union bancaire européenne…) et rappelé la force des liens économiques entre les Etats-Unis et la France. « La France est déterminée à reformer et à s’adapter pour être encore plus compétitive et innovante. Nous avons l’élan nécessaire pour faire ces changements dont nous avons besoin” a-t-il déclaré, « mais nous ne pouvons pas le faire seul. Votre plus ancien allié et l’Europe dans son ensemble ont besoin de vous ».
Retrouvez l’intégralité du discours de Bruno Le Maire :
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the last few years, I’ve lost count of those saying France was on the brink. A stagnant economy, a divided society and politics at breaking point.
Instead of all that, the French people have just made a very clear choice, a choice of hope. By electing Emmanuel Macron, they have sent a message of optimism and openness to Europe and the world. They have expressed their desire for political change. And their support for a clear economic vision.
You all know that France has strong and numerous assets. But for too long, we have not made the most of them. Too many taxes. A complex labour law. Not enough flexibility. Too much red tape. But this will now end. We will build on our strengths. And do away with what is stopping our economy from being as dynamic as it could be.
I’m confident we can deliver because the political momentum makes change finally possible. When running for the Presidency, Emmanuel Macron was very clear about his projects. And he and his government now have a broad consensus across the country to deliver on those projects.
As new minister for the Economy and Finance, my role will be to focus on the reforms needed for our economy.
You’ll notice a step change in our thinking. Finance is not our enemy. Finance fuels for growth. Our only enemy is unemployment. We want to be competitive. We want to be the place where all companies feel welcome. We want to attract new businesses. We want to convince investors that France is where they should invest. We will show them we are ready to do what it takes to make France even more attractive.
So how ?
I. The reforms we will carry out
Actions at the national level
First and foremost, we are committed to transforming the job market to make it more flexible. We will do so in a comprehensive way.
• By tackling the rigidities of our labour laws. We’ll adopt the necessary executive orders this summer. We will cap compensation claims in employment tribunals. And modernise social dialogue by promoting workplace agreements over branch level agreements.
• By ensuring we have the skills needed in our economy by reforming our approach to lifelong training.
• By reducing the cost of labour – for example by making the necessary changes to modernise our pension systems.
• By providing stability and clarity when it comes to taxation.
I will implement the reforms promoted by the President during his election campaign. The corporate tax rate will progressively decrease over the next five years. It will eventually be set at 25% - the average rate in the EU. And we will tackle other tax inefficiencies.
But once we’ve overhauled our tax system, we are committed to maintaining stability. Avoiding further changes. Businesses need to know what to expect. If we want more companies and investors to come to France, we can’t go on changing the way the tax system works every six months.
• By improving our business environment.
I know some feel that it is difficult in France to set up and run a business. Administrative processes are too complex. Too much red tape. And the authorities you speak to are not always receptive. We want to change that. We’ll cut red tape and introduce more flexibility. For example, new rules to ensure that the public authorities support rather than immediately sanction.
And long gone are the days when you could only do business or speak to our regulators in French. We will always be proud of our language but we also understand the need to make things easier for financial institutions operating in France. One practical example : we will create a special court to handle disputes relating to financial contracts governed by English law, once the UK leaves the EU. All proceedings will take place in English. We will hire people with experience in common law, regardless of where they come from.
Companies create growth. The State’s role is to help companies to create growth and thus jobs by getting the framework right. That’s what we will focus on.
Acting at the European level
But we can’t do this in isolation. In particular, we are deeply interdependent with the rest of the EU, in particular the economies of the Eurozone. And for us to grow more, the rest of the EU also needs to do better.
Brexit comes as a major challenge for all of us. But it does not call into question our commitment to the European project. Quite the opposite. We think it is essential to make the EU as a whole and its 27 members stronger. To achieve this, we will promote changes in the way Europe works.
The architecture of our monetary union must be strengthened to make it more resilient to crises. This will be done by completing the banking union. By deepening the single market for capital across the EU. And completing the economic and monetary union : our medium term objective is to create a budget for the euro area. It will invest in innovation. It will act as a lever for macroeconomic stabilisation. It will foster the necessary convergence between our economies.
Can France do this alone ? No, most definitely not. I believe strongly in the Franco-German engine as the driving force of European integration. So does my German counterpart, Mr. Wolfgang Schäuble – with whom I am on excellent terms. We will work hand in hand to make this integration – long talked about – actually happen. Of course, we will also work with all other Eurozone members. But France and Germany can usefully lead the way.
Paris as a leading global financial center
Finally, a point specifically about Paris as a financial center. New York and London are the leading financial centres in the world – no doubt about that.
But in Europe, after London, Paris is the leading financial city in continental Europe. That’s in part because of the quality of our regulators. And their commitment to promote growth and the efficient financing of our economy. In Paris, you will find people who understand complex market activities. And public authorities ready to work closely with industry to adapt to market innovations. And to ensure a simple and modern legal framework.
In Paris you will also find a complete financial ecosystem. The whole range of financial activities is present : not only corporate and investment banking but also asset-management, insurance and fintechs. As well as those who support them – the lawyers, the accountants, the auditors.
Paris’ financial sector is innovative. It always has been. And we want to promote that further.
And we have the necessary talent pool to underpin that innovation. To train and attract tomorrow’s talent. We have some great business schools such as INSEAD – ranked first globally for its MBA last year and this year.
In the future, we will continue to build on our strengths.
So Paris is already a great place to do business. France is a great place to do business. And we’re going to make it even better. By tackling head on those issues we know concern you. France, and Paris as its main financial centre, will be open – open minded, open to all talents, open to innovation, open to each and every one of you.
II. The economic ties between France and the US are strong
But we are not starting from nothing. France and the USA are already much more integrated than many think. Both countries benefit greatly from our deep economic relationship.
First, hundreds of thousands of jobs depend on our economic ties. There are around 5000 French subsidiaries in the U.S. employing more than half a million workers in total. In 2015, France was the second source of job-creating foreign direct investment in the USA – a close second to Canada. Figures are roughly similar for the subsidiaries of American firms in France and the number of people they employ.
American and French subsidiaries are essential to both countries’ exports. French affiliated firms in the US export 23 billion dollars in goods to third countries every year. Similarly American subsidiaries in France benefit from an unrivalled access to European and African markets and export about 40 billion dollars to these areas annually.
The knowledge economy is what links us most strongly, with R&D at its heart. The US is the main investor in R&D in France. French subsidiaries spend 7 billion dollars in R&D annually, 12% of the total foreign investment in the US. In 2015, French companies filed more than 400 patents in the US.
More generally, France is often portrayed as a protectionist fortress. But look at the numbers, and you’ll see that image could not be further from the truth.
We are already a very open economy : more than 20 000 foreign companies established in France, similar to the UK and almost twice as high as Italy or Spain. Foreign companies represent 2 million jobs.
We are a hub for R&D. The growth of R&D spending by foreign companies in France has been around 10% for several years. R&D spending in Greater Paris is already at the level of the Silicon Valley.
We’re also a highly diversified economy – similar to the USA or the UK. The service sector is dominant and there are many areas where we are world leaders - the aeronautical, chemical and pharmaceutical sectors to name a few.
These are the facts. We value entrepreneurs. We support innovation. We are open to foreign companies and investment. And we want to improve our attractiveness further.
At a time when Europe is opening, we also want others to be open too. We believe in reciprocity : we open our markets, and others open theirs – including for public procurement. We are concerned about the growing protectionist tendencies everywhere. We think that preventing more restrictions on investment and trade is good for all of us.
III. To conclude, the bigger picture
I believe the elections in France showed that our citizens want a new economic vision for France. That’s what I tried to set out above.
But the elections were not just about the economy. They were also about the world we live in, how to face the future with confidence despite the many global challenges we are all faced with.
First, climate change. One of the big issues of our time. We regret the decision of the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. But it does not alter our determination to fight global warming. We will work with everyone ready to help us face this challenge. Adapting to climate change will profoundly change the way our economy works. We need to develop new and sustainable ways to eat, travel and produce goods.
We are confident we can do that. Innovation has always been one of our trademarks. As the famous saying dating back to the 1970s goes : “In France we don’t have oil, but we have ideas”. With the help of digital, cultural and technological innovations, we are confident we can “make our planet great again”, to quote President Macron. Greentechs and cleantechs will play an essential role in the years and decades to come. We welcome all companies and investors keen on developing those technologies.
In all sectors of the economy, we will have to rethink, find new ideas and innovate. We need to leave behind us our old ways, our intensive and unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. This is a challenge. But France has the means to be one of the leading countries facing these challenges, but we also need your ideas and your investments. Come and join us.
Another challenge which faces all of us : security. The terrible attacks countries across the world have faced over the last few years have led the highest authorities to take strong measures. On the economic front, the terrorists have clearly failed : their heinous acts have had only a very limited impact on economic growth – estimated at 0.1% less growth.
We will not allow them to defeat us. We will protect the daily life of our fellow citizens and of all people residing in France. We will win the fight against terrorism. And without giving up the defense of individual freedoms.
As minister for the Economy and Finance, I will do everything in my power to fight those who fund terrorism.
France is at a turning point in its history. The French nation is reinventing itself. The French people have shown they wanted change and renewal across the piece. What was unthinkable just a few years ago has happened – political figures from across the traditional political divide working hand in hand for the greater benefit of our country. It’s exciting, even exhilarating.
France is motivated to reform and to adapt to be even more competitive and innovative. We have the momentum necessary to make the changes we need to carry out.
But to be successful, to make our economy thrive, we need greater investment. We will make France an even more attractive place for your investments. Seize the moment. We will make it worth your while.
Much more generally, we need to work closely together.
Today’s world is deeply unstable. We face many global challenges – in particular climate change and terrorism. Europe is ready to face up to its responsibilities. And France is ready to lead the European response with its partners. But we can’t do it alone. Your oldest ally and Europe as a whole needs you.
This message comes from a friend of yours. You are a country I have always loved. I love your literature, your painters and your landscapes from the East Coast to the West Coast. I have been to New-York countless times. And I’ve witnessed the ups and downs of our relationship. And from that I have learnt one thing : when the US and France do not agree, when they do not work together, the world is disoriented. We can’t let that happen. We need to work together to ensure it does not.