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Macron seeks record €13bn in foreign investment at Choose France summit

French President Emmanuel Macron is rolling out the red carpet for global CEOs as he aims to secure a record 13 billion euros in investments.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is one of more than 200 international business leaders expected Monday at the annual Choose France conference.

Musk, the CEO of Tesla who bought social network Twitter in a $44 bilion deal last year, will meet Macron at the Elysée Palace before attending a lunch with Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.

Le Maire told BFM TV on Monday that the talks between the government and Musk would cover several topics, including electric cars.

Musk will also visit the sixth annual Choose France summit being held at the palace of Versailles.

Among the foreign business leaders, half are from Europe, 20 percent North American and 15 percent from Asia. 

 

Incentives

The summit follows a series of incentives announced by Macron last week to support innovative industries and transition towards greener technology.

They include tax credits in fields like battery production, electric cars, hydrogen and wind power, as well as accelerating authorisation for industrial projects.

“France is changing, is getting adapted to the course of the world and I believe that we're following the right path, which is to reindustrialise the country, to be more sovereign and more respectful of the climate and biodiversity," Macron said Friday during a visit to the northern port city of Dunkirk.

Last week, France beat competition from Germany and the Netherlands for Prologium’s first overseas car battery plant, thanks to heavy government lobbying, deal sweeteners and competitive power prices, executives from the Taiwanese company said.

Swedish giant Ikea announced last week it would be investing an additional 906 million euros in France before 2026.

 

Challenges

However Macron continues to face pressure over the unpopular pension reform law to raise the retirement age in France.

Opponents are staging small protests, with people loudly banging pots and pans in places where the president and government members are scheduled to travel.

Unions meanwhile have called for a new round of nationwide protests on 6 June.

Credit rating agency Fitch last month downgraded France's sovereign credit rating, citing the protest movement.

“Political deadlock and (sometimes violent) social movements pose a risk to Macron’s reform agenda,” the agency wrote.

Macron has been seeking to win back momentum by championing a push towards the greener industries. But he also called last week for a “pause” on EU environmental regulations, arguing the bloc of 27 already imposes tougher rules than its competitors.

The comments caused outrage among French and European Green politicians.

Macron later insisted he was sticking to his climate-related commitments, including all policies aimed at making the EU reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, but said, "Let’s not add more.”

Since he took office in 2017, Macron has cut business taxes and made it easier to hire and fire workers. He has also made it more difficult for unemployed people to claim benefits.

For a fourth consecutive year, France was the European country that had attracted the greatest number of foreign investments, according to a survey by EY last week.

 

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