How to invest in France
Doing Business in France
Select a type of project
- Manufacture in France
- Establish a decision-making center
- Tap into African markets
- Be part of the “La French Tech” movement
- Help build “Le Grand Paris”
- Optimize your logistics
- Set up R&D operations
- Capitalize on the financial market
Manufacture in France
France is a sure bet for manufacturing companies in every sector, from aerospace to agri-food, automotive, transport and metal processing:
- Highly competitive land and real estate
- A highly skilled, productive workforce and a continuing education system permanently funded by generous state investment
- Competitive labor costs comparable to those in Germany and Benelux: France’s competitiveness and employment tax credit (CICE) boosts businesses’ competitiveness through a tax saving equivalent to 6% of total payroll costs, excluding salaries higher than 2.5 times the statutory minimum wage
- Reliable infrastructure and supply networks
- An attractive tax framework, including the world’s fifth-lowest tax rate for manufacturing companies (taking into account various tax bases, rules on depreciation, exemptions and tax credits – source: KPMG, Competitive Alternatives, 2016)
- High-quality energy production from a broad range of sources at competitive prices
- World-class service providers
- A very effective business support and investment incentives system
Establish a decision-making center
There are many benefits to choosing France as the location for a decision-making center:
- Quality real estate readily available at competitive prices: the La Défense business district on the edge of Paris is the largest in continental Europe
- Many multinationals have a presence in France: 29 of the world’s 500 leading companies are French, 28 are German and 20 are British
- France’s central location, combined with the quality and diversity of its transport infrastructure, make it a major hub for the EMEA region: Paris-Le Bourget is Europe’s number one airport for business travel, while Paris-Charles de Gaulle is Europe’s second busiest airport for passenger traffic
- A business-friendly economy: France is one of the easiest and cheapest countries in which to start a business
- A pool of productive talent and a respected system of higher education management qualifications, prized by international students. On average, French employees work longer and are more productive than their German and British counterparts, while French managers work 44.1 hours a week, compared with 42.5 in Germany and 43.3 in the United Kingdom. (Eurostat)
- Ability to hire international talent from around the world and live anywhere in France: renowned quality of life for employees and their families, tax advantages for expat executives, special visas, numerous international schools for children, a first-class healthcare system, etc
Tap into African markets
French exports to Africa total around €30 billion a year, and are growing fast: Africa is the destination for 6.4% of all French goods sold abroad.
These exports, generated by 40,000 businesses, put France at the top of the European leaderboard. This highly auspicious situation is further enhanced by France’s status as the leading European investor in Africa, with over a thousand French companies having set up on the continent.
France offers a wealth of advantages for companies looking to establish industrial and trading platforms to service Europe and Africa, including both French-speaking and non-French-speaking countries:
- Substantial diplomatic representation making it easy to complete business-related administrative procedures from France- African students making up a significant proportion of foreign students in France
- Similar corporate law
- Unbeatable air access between France and African countries
- Numerous bilateral tax treaties
- Operational proximity: A great many French groups are established in Africa and have in-depth knowledge of local economies and societies
Be part of the “La French Tech” movement
What country does not aspire to have entrepreneurial startup talent? France has a further sizeable key strength: it is a country of entrepreneurship and enterprise creation. The 8,000 startups set up on French soil constitute a major growth engine for the future.
Using the internationally recognized “La French Tech” accreditation, these innovative tech companies receive strong backing in France through the French government’s “National Investment Program”, substantial private- and public-sector financial support, and specialist French Tech hubs throughout the country.
The results are not hard to find: for example, 274 French startups exhibited at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in 2018 (with the support of Business France), while Station F, the world’s largest startup incubator, is now open in Paris, hosting a thousand fledgling companies.
In 2017, for the first time ever, France takes the lead as Europe’s top venture capital hub with €2.7 billion funds raised, vs. €2.3 billion in the UK.
To further boost France’s lead in this area, the French Tech Ticket competition attracts entrepreneurs from all over the world, offering a chance to win a tailored fast-track welcome program for both administrative and personnel issues.
Help build “Le Grand Paris”
The “Grand Paris” project aims to transform the Paris conurbation into a major 21st century global city, improving the lives of its residents, evening out inequalities throughout the Paris region, and building a sustainable city.
From the outset, this project has been backed by a huge transport infrastructure project – the “Grand Paris Express” – which will see 200 km (125 miles) of automated metro lines built between 2016 and 2030 to connect suburbs with each other and central Paris. Around 70 new stations will be built, transforming the urban landscape throughout Paris’s suburbs. The Paris Olympics in 2024 will only speed up these projects. “Grand Paris” offers a unique, not-to-be-missed opportunity for investors to play their part in building the Paris of the future.
In conjunction with local stakeholders and drawing on its network spanning 70 countries, Business France has been tasked by the government with promoting the various projects that make up “Grand Paris” among international investors. The aim is to contribute to their development by putting project owners in touch, where appropriate, with foreign investors.
Optimize your logistics
France’s location at the heart of Europe, and at the crossroads between the north of the continent and the Mediterranean basin, means it offers unique geographical advantages over other countries, making it the ideal base for European logistics.
- Highly competitive land and real estate: France has nearly 60 million sq. m. of warehouses larger than 5,000 sq. m. (developpement-durable.gouv.fr). In terms of setup costs, France is ranked second for industrial leasing and third for total facility investment costs (industrial land and construction). (KPMG, 2016)
- Some of the best air connections in Europe: Paris-Charles de Gaulle is Europe’s busiest airport for cargo and its second-busiest for passengers, while Paris-Le Bourget is Europe’s leading airport for business travel
- The largest road network in Europe: More than 1 million km (620,000 miles) of roads, including 11,600 km (7,200 miles) of motorways
- One of the best rail networks in Europe: 30,100 km (18,750 miles) of railway lines – Europe’s second-longest network – and also ranked second in Europe for high-speed rail lines – Europe’s first longest network
- Unparalleled sea access: France has the longest coastline in Europe – 5,000 km/3,100 miles and seven major seaports; Marseille Fos is the leading port in France and the Mediterranean; HAROPA (the combined Le Havre, Rouen and Paris port authority) has been voted the world’s Best Green Seaport; and the world’s third largest cargo shipping line, CMA-CGM, is French
- Europe’s longest network of navigable waterways: Nearly 8,500 km (5,280 miles), including 2,000 km (1,250 miles) of high-capacity waterways
Set up R&D operations
France’s R&D ecosystem offers some key advantages:
- World-class researchers and a ready supply of skilled talent
- Numerous opportunities for collaborative research with private and public research institutes, universities and companies (for example within innovation clusters, technology research institutions or Carnot institutes)
- A simple and effective research tax credit, worth 30% of annual R&D spending up to €100 million per company and 5% above this threshold
- An innovation tax credit that complements the research tax credit by allowing innovative companies to deduct 20% of their innovation expenditure (up to €400,000)
- Innovative new company (JEI) status is a special legal status that provides for reductions in tax and social security contributions for SMEs up to eight years old whose R&D costs account for at least 15% of total spending
- A wide array of financial support and advice offered by Bpifrance, France’s public investment bank
- A lower tax rate on intellectual property income: royalties and capital gains from sales of patents, for example, are subject to a lower corporate tax rate (15%)
Capitalize on the financial market
There are 1.2 million jobs in France’s financial sector, which generates €300 billion in financing and boasts more than a hundred private research centers. It is powered by a pool of financial talent that attracts over 70,000 new recruits every year. Five French banks feature in Europe’s top 10, including two of the top three: BNP Paribas (second) and Crédit Agricole (third). Among key banking clients, more major industrial companies are headquartered in Paris than in any other European city. (Paris Europlace)
This talent pool is a result of France’s highly effective higher education system, producing mathematical engineers, financial experts, managers, and people to fill many other high-skilled roles… French finance consequently enjoys an excellent reputation worldwide.
The Paris financial center is the European leader in equity markets, corporate bonds and sovereign debt. The Paris marketplace is also an unrivalled gateway for investment in the euro zone, and a pioneer in new funding channels, including private equity and crowdfunding.
France is also Europe’s second-largest insurance market and the world’s number two hub for collective investments, as well as a trailblazer in issuing ‘green bonds’.
This innovative spirit is also reflected in France’s growing number of FinTechs (currently over 750), the increasing proportion of funding denominated in Chinese yuan (20% of trade flows between France and China) and solutions provided by over a thousand researchers in finance.
Lastly, new entrants to the financial sphere will find a fast-moving, attractive and thriving real estate market in Paris that makes it easy to work with the whole of Europe every day.