France’s ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann praised the relationship between the UK and France on Bastille Day while unveiling the new face of the Creative France campaign, a government-backed initiative aimed at showcasing and supporting French business and innovation internationally.

High-end sound systems company Devialet won the campaign’s Creative Next competition, which was launched in June in the UK, United Arab Emirates, India, South Korea and Singapore. The company’s products are designed and manufactured in France and also sold throughout the UK. Contestants from other French companies in the UK offered entries from innovative fields like big data solutions, ecommerce, mobile apps and crowdfunding.

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“France and the UK are historical allies and partners,” Ms Bermann told guests at July 14 celebrations in London. “There are 3,000 French businesses in the UK, employing 400,000 people. Our collaboration with the UK is stronger than ever before and we welcome British individuals and businesses in France, just as the UK is home to one of the largest French communities outside France.”

An end to uncertainty

The positive announcement comes at a time of uncertainty concerning the UK’s relationship with EU countries. French political and business figures have expressed mixed feelings following the UK’s June 23 vote to leave the EU.

French corporate executives have urged decisiveness on Brexit and a quick implementation of the UK’s departure from the EU to avoid continued uncertainty and economic damage. The CEO of French car manufacturer Renault, which employs thousands at its UK assembly plants, described the situation as “worrying”. Meanwhile, government leaders are touting Paris’s position as a rising competitor as a European financial centre, announcing a wave of incentives aimed at luring London’s finance firms away to France.  

French investment made up 8% of the UK’s inward FDI stock in 2014/15. The greatest number of in the past five years have been in business services, financial services, software and IT, and transportation. France’s exports to the UK in 2014 were valued at $40.3bn, or 7.1% of its total exports.

Creative France is an initiative of Business France, the national agency promoting French businesses and exports and facilitating FDI into France.