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2019 France Attractiveness Scoreboard: Green Growth, Structural Strengths & R&D initiatives key to France's high attractiveness ranking

22 October 2019
by businessfrance -- last modified 22 October 2019

As the world's sixth-largest economy, France reaffirms its position as the leading host country for production investment in Europe and in 2018 became the first host country for R & D activities. The move towards a carbon-free economy and the importance put on Green Growth are key factors in France's economic resilience.


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Business France and the French Treasury Directorate presented the “2019 France Attractiveness Scoreboard” at this week’s “France des Solutions” forum.

  • The Scoreboard judges the attractiveness of France compared to 13 other members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
  • Now in its 10th edition, the France Attractiveness Scoreboard examines a large amount of economic data & compares the countries’ performances.
  • The scoreboard’s analysis of economic indicators highlights several other factors behind the French economy’s key strengths, include structural factors, business creation & future-proofing initiatives.

French government resolve to boost industry

Bruno Lemaire, Minister for the Economy and Finance, notes, “our country is improving on many of the main attractiveness factors, as seen from its progress in various international rankings. We have seen improvements in innovation, cost competitiveness and corporate finance. France has been the leading European country for hosting industrial projects for over 15 years. This reflects the government’s determination to strengthen French industry; on top of businesses benefitting from the tax incentive for investments in robotization and digital transformation, the creation of 124 industrial regions and the ongoing simplification of administrative procedures, we have begun to develop a Pact for Full Employment. This pact aims to significantly increase the share of industry in our economy.”

Key structural strengths preparing economic activity for the future

France has excellent worldwide travel connections. The country benefits from high-quality airport infrastructures, with Paris Charles de Gaulle ranked 2nd for cargo transport (after Frankfurt), and 2nd for passenger numbers (after London Heathrow). Their rail freight transport is also extensive: ranked 3rd among selected European countries, after Germany and Poland. The rail network will see further improvements thanks to the 10-year plan to overhaul the network (Rail Reform Act of June 28, 2018).

Businesses in France enjoy a high-quality telecommunications infrastructure, with the highest fixed broadband penetration rate among the countries and one of the highest wireless rates (ranked 2nd). Launched in February 2013, the High-Speed Broadband France Plan aims to cover the entire country by 2022.

The country is also modernising, with the digitalisation of public services. According to the United Nations E-Government Survey 2018 France is ranked 2nd in the world for online services, and 9th for e-government (4th in this scoreboard’s sample). The digitalisation of public services is an ongoing economic matter, as seen with the implementation of a PAYE income tax system on 1st January 2019.

Increase in new business creation, with a focus on industry

The start-up enterprise rate across the whole French economy has consistently stayed above 9% since 2008, putting France in 3rd position after the UK and Poland. In manufacturing, this rate was 7.3%, with the rate having remained above 7% since 2009. This contradicts the negative growth experienced by German industry since 2013.

In 2018, France’s manufacturing industry had the lowest increase in labour unit costs amongst the selected countries (+0.1%). In comparison, labour unit costs in the manufacturing industry increased by +2.3% among the EU-28.

R&D at the forefront of Government initiatives

R&D fundingFrance has the world's most beneficial tax treatment for businesses research and development expenditure. The country's cost competitiveness in R&D activities has strengthened since 2008. The cost of employing a researcher in France has decreased by 28% thanks to the research tax credit and accompanying grants. R&D expenditure in France rose by 1.8% in 2018, the highest increase in recent years.

"The action plans implemented by the government to strengthen the country's structural key strengths and the choice, in the field of research and industry, to maintain the research tax credit or to win the industrialization race with the competitiveness and employment tax credit (CICE), along with the recent announcements from the National Council for Industry, have all helped to improve our ranking for a number of different fundamental criteria, ultimately making France more attractive," said Christophe Lecourtier, CEO of Business France.

Aiming for a carbon-free economy

Renewable energySeveral government initiatives have been led in recent years, including the Climate Plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, or the 2015 Paris Agreement for an evolution towards sustainable development :

Green growth boosts economic and job opportunities, notably in green energy. According to EurObserv'ER, France was Europe's 3rd largest employer in the renewable energy sector in 2017, with 140,700 jobs (0.5% of its working population).

Greenhouse gas emissions"The importance placed by the government on the low-carbon economy and technological innovation through events such as Make our Planet Great Again, the One Planet Summit and Tech for Good, which recently brought together 80 CEOs of major businesses from the global digital ecosystem to find innovative ways to protect the environment, indicates the way forward for the many startups that form part of our innovative economy," concludes Pascal Cagni, Chairman of Business France and Ambassador for International Investment.

Electricity rates are especially attractive for companies operating in France. They are among the most competitive in Europe due to careful management of electricity generation and the national grid. Electricity rates in France are stable, with a 0.3% rate change for 70,000 to 150,000 MWh, versus 0.9% in Germany and Ireland, 1% in Italy.

Business France is the national agency supporting the international development of the French economy, responsible for fostering export growth by French businesses, as well as promoting and facilitating international investment in France.

Business France
Business France

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Business France is the national agency supporting the international development of the French economy, responsible for fostering export growth by French businesses, as well as promoting and facilitating international investment in France.

It promotes France's companies, business image and nationwide attractiveness as an investment location, and also runs the VIE international internship program.

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