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France’s Foreign Investment up 16% : Americans Top List

New Insight
12 June 2018
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Christopher Lecourtier, CEO of Business France posed the question this way.

“We had a question: would the improvement of the perception of France among international investors be reflected in the figures ? This is the case. We are convinced that the dynamic is not only in the minds. “

In one of the most highly awaited figures on the French economy to be released, foreign investment in France increased by 16% in 2017.

A veritable sigh of relief could be heard coming from the new Macron government offices.

The figures were made available by Business France, the French agency responsible for helping small and medium-sized businesses to better plan their business internationally, and to attract more foreign investors to France.

In 2017, the number of investment projects financed by foreigners was 1,298, an increase of 16% over one year, and Americans led the charge.  Americans are now the leading foreign investors in France, with US investments representing 18% of the total number of new investments and 21% of jobs created.

With the number of new investment projects at its highest over the last ten years, the economic importance can also be realized by the number of jobs created.   As reported in the French financial newspaper Les Echos,  « foreign funds projects employment figures increased by 6% compared to 2016, to 26,400 and these investments have also saved about 7,000 jobs. »

What’s Behind the Figures ?

In France there are a number of competing explanations for this good economic news.

  • This is part of the return of economic growth worldwide, but also in France – where it reached 2% in 2017
  • Brexit : another positive impact for France as some investors fear the uncertainty of UK Brexit plans and turn to France as an alternative
  • « Macron Effect » : clearly identifying his adminstration’s goals to make France more attractive to investors and « business friendly » his efforts encouraged investment

The most likely answer is a combination of all three of the above, but what is clear is that this is good economic news for France.

In a poll conducted with 600 investors last January by the respected Kantar Institute, « 84% of foreign leaders surveyed felt that France was an attractive destination for investment, an increase of 10 points in one year. » What the new investment figures point to is a move from a reassuring perception to action on the part of France’s foreign investors.


Didier Hémion

Partner,Chartered Accountant

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