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French push reaps rich dividends in foreign investments

By JONATHAN POWELL | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-15 08:46

France's President Emmanuel Macron (C) shakes hands with CEO of Arcelor Mittal, Lakshmi Mittal (3rd R) as he attends a meeting with French and Indian investors during the seventh "Choose France Summit", aiming to attract foreign investors to the country, at the Chateau de Versailles, outside Paris, on May 13, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

France has announced a flurry of significant investments from tech titans to pharmaceutical giants, boosting the country's bid to become a global business hub.

The French government said US retail giant Amazon will make a 1.2 billion euro ($1.3 billion) commitment to investments in the country, while Pfizer and AstraZeneca will commit nearly 1 billion euros.

The pledges were announced ahead of a pivotal foreign investment summit, Choose France, which opened on Monday in Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron, seeking to enhance Paris' status as a premier European business hub and bolster the French economy, is hosting 180 corporate leaders at the Chateau de Versailles for the annual summit.

The event is part of a push by the government to revitalize France's industrial sector and streamline regulations to entice foreign enterprises, Bloomberg reported.

France has received combined investment commitments from foreign companies of more than 15 billion euros, Macron's office said on Monday.

The French presidency said the investments included 56 different business projects and could lead to the creation of 10,000 jobs.

Over the weekend, France said Amazon would announce a 1.2-billion-euro investment at the event, to boost its logistics as well as Amazon Web Services' cloud infrastructure.

France is positioning itself as a European AI hub and the investments will help build the data infrastructure critical to support fast-growing, homegrown startups like Mistral AI.

Additionally, Pfizer plans to reinvest 500 million euros in France, while AstraZeneca is expected to invest roughly 365 million euros in the Dunkirk region.

European presence

Microsoft announced its intent to invest 4 billion euros in constructing cloud and AI infrastructure in France, with the goal of training 1 million individuals and assisting 2,500 startups by 2027.

Morgan Stanley is enhancing its European presence in Paris with a new global research hub, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

The US bank has increased its Paris staff from 150 to about 400 since 2021 and plans to add 100 more employees, including expanding its research and development center from 90 to 120 workers.

Despite facing challenges such as budget deficits, the French economy, which ranks as the eurozone's second largest, experienced a modest 0.2 percent growth in the first quarter, Reuters noted.

Government officials did not give details on the public financial and other support, but the state offers tax credits for certain types of green investments and research and development.

Projects aligning with public priorities like hydrogen or computer chips often qualify for grants while local governments frequently make land available to foreign investors.

France was Europe's top destination for foreign investment for the fifth year running last year, according to an EY survey, with more than 1,200 investment announcements, Agence France-Presse reported.

"This is a result of the stability of our economic policies," Le Maire told public broadcaster France 2.

Agencies contributed to this story.



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