France represents a market of over 63 million inhabitants with a high purchasing power and is at the heart of one of the largest economic market in the world, the European Union with over 500 million inhabitants.
In 2013, of the world's top 500 companies, 31 were French (Germany has 29 and the UK 26). Twelve French companies or institutions are among the 100 most innovative organizations in the world. France is ranked first in Europe, ahead of Sweden (three organizations), Switzerland (3), Germany (1), and Belgium (1).
With a long tradition in industry, France counts 2.5 million companies and big French groups have successfully adapted themselves to the globalisation of the economy. In fact, 12 French groups were listed in the 2013 top 100 Global Innovators: Alcatel-Lucent, Arkema, CNRS, Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, IFP Enrgies Nouvelles, L'Oréal, Michelin, Safran, Saint-Gobain, Thales et Valeo.
Many French companies are global leaders in various industries:
According to a report by the country's investment promotion agency, France was the fifth popular global destination for FDI in 2012 and the second most popular in Europe behind UK.
There are more than 20,000 foreign-owned companies doing business in France. They represent a significant number of large corporates (32% of all companies in France with more than 5,000 employees) and mid-size companies (28% of such companies in France with between 250 and 5,000 employees are subsidiaries of foreign companies). (INSEE, 2012)
The same year, there were 693 new ventures in France. Almost 60% of these came from Europe, Asia, North America, with nearly one-quarter of investment originating in the US. The report also highlighted the growth in the investments from the BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. In 2012, the BRIC countries accounted for 8% of projects in France, up from 6% in 2011. China was the biggest BRIC investor in France.
The most popular fields for investment in France are software and IT, electronic components and hardware, energy, chemicals, and aerospace. According to the report, 57% of all projects in 2012 were in these sectors. The number of foreign investment projects in R&D, engineering and design rose sharply to 77, from 58 in 2012.
France is recognized for its quality of life. On average, 13 foreign companies choose to make new job-creating investments here every week. The country receives more foreign investment in industry than any other country in Europe.
The "National Pact for Growth, Competitiveness and Employment" and the competitiveness and employment tax credit (CICE) lowering labor costs from 2014, along with the creation of bpifrance, a public investment bank, and the Act of June 14, 2013 reforming the labor market are all serving to consolidate France's position in Europe.
Source: Invest in France, INSEE.
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