In 2008, no fewer than 631 greenfield FDI projects made their way to France, valued at $22.2bn. While that remains the country’s largest capital inflow in one year, 2017 saw a greater number of FDI projects – 698 – following nine years of averaging 380 projects annually, according to fDi Markets. These figures are corroborated by Unctad’s World Investment Report 2018, which recently found that France’s FDI inflows increased by 30% in 2017.
President of the Paris Region Valérie Pécresse said that these impressive numbers can in part be attributed to the election of President Emmanuel Macron, who has significantly furthered the pro-business reform drive that pre-existed his mandate.
Mr Macron’s labour reforms and tax cuts led to steps towards liberalisation. However, he entered an already improving FDI climate given that, in terms of capex, FDI inflows rose before his 2017 election, increasing by $13bn in 2016.
Ms Pécresse has been a key figure in the pre-existing reform drive, overseeing numerous business improvements since being elected in December, 2015. “We opened a one-stop shop called Choose Paris Region, which is… helping businesspeople deal with all their procedures, or find schools and real estate. This is important because, administratively, France is often seen as [being too] bureaucratic,” she said.
Ms Pécresse also contended that Brexit has increased FDI to France. “People based in London want to have a foot inside the EU, and are thinking about relocating. [Paris Region] has one of the biggest real estate markets in Europe. We are [one of the world’s top destinations for Fortune 500 companies], a huge financial market and the only capital city with 40% of national research based in the city and its suburbs. So we are a great region for innovation and industry. We also offer quality of life”.
According to EY’s FDI attractiveness report for 2018, Paris is now more attractive for foreign investors than London, which held the top spot in EY’s survey for many years.
Looking forward, France’s FDI forecast for 2018 is very positive. The first quarter was historically strong, witnessing 148 projects valued at $7.6bn, the latter equalling the yearly average for capex inflows between 2010 and 2015, according to fDi Markets.
In February 2018, EuroDisney announced plans for a €2bn expansion of Walt Disney Studios Park in Marne-La-Valle, near Paris. In May, IBM said it would create 1800 jobs in France, providing a lift to Mr Macron’s efforts to make France into a global hub for leading technologies.