The French economy is open to foreign talent and investment, and enjoys key advantages that set it apart in the global economy. France has lots to offer, with key strengths including a large domestic market in an excellent location, first-class multimodal transport infrastructure making it an ideal export hub, a well-qualified and highly productive workforce, along with outstanding quality of life. 

Competitiveness, innovation, startups… France has many strings to its bow and is widely acclaimed by foreign business leaders.

Contrary to popular belief, France is in fact a nation of entrepreneurs. In 2017, 590,000 businesses were founded in France, up 4.8% from 2016, reflecting growing confidence in entrepreneurship and the momentum it has generated.

France is a competitive location and has proven time and time again to have been on foreign investors’ radars for many years. Importantly, France is also proving an increasingly attractive business destination, attracting growing numbers of investments. In 2016, more than 1,100 foreign investment decisions were recorded, up 16% from 2015. (Business France, 2017)Seventy-four percent of business decision-makers consider France to be an attractive investment location. (Kantar Public survey, 2016)

Paris: a hotspot for innovation and finance

Crowned “European Capital of Innovation” in November 2017 at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Paris has continued to perform well, having been named as the new home for the European Banking Authority following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

The European Commission’s decision underpins the French capital’s status as a major financial center, with various key advantages, including a central location in Europe and excellent transport links. Paris is also already home to the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), one of the two other European financial supervisory bodies.

French startups raised more than €2.5 billion in 2017, €400 million more than in 2016, with revenues split between the digital (two-thirds) and life sciences sectors (one-third). This amounts to an increase of 16.2% in sums raised and 5.4% in deals from 2016, putting France in second place in Europe for fundraising.

Spotlight on higher education in France

French universities fared very well in the most recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which estimate the employability of young graduates. Twelve French institutions featured on the list, including three in the top 30: École Polytechnique, HEC Paris and EM Lyon.

In December 2017, QS World University Rankings released its first ever list of the world’s top business schools, featuring nine French institutions, ahead of the United Kingdom (six institutions on the list) and the United States (four institutions).

Moreover, France is the fourth leading destination in the world for international students, with 40% of its PhD students hailing from other countries. (OECD, 2017)

French way of life

It is no secret that France is famous for its quality of life. With 82.6 million international tourists (UNWTO, 2016) France is the world’s leading destination and continues to build upon its reputation for being a great place to live. It has no fewer than 43 UNESCO World Heritage sites, and with a diverse range of cultural events it is a country that you simply have to visit.

France is more than just fresh baguettes and chic fashion!

Over the years, France has often received a rough press and been subjected to unfair stereotyping. However, not only is it renowned for being the gastronomic capital of the world and a leading creator of luxury goods, France also boasts many other strengths that make it such a unique and attractive country.

Every year, Business France publishes the “France Attractiveness Scoreboard”, which substantiates the country’s structural advantages, while also underlining the positive effect of reforms undertaken to boost the competitiveness of the French economy. By analyzing a wide array of economic indicators, it highlights France’s innovation capacity, entrepreneurial momentum and industrial prowess.

Discover more about the key strengths of France’s economy and manufacturing sector in this series of kits, which summarize key facts and figures in 10 bite-size points.