Business / Economy

Hollande courts Chinese investors to boost economy

By Li Xiang in Paris (China Daily) Updated: 2014-02-19 07:05

French President Francois Hollande vowed on Monday to make the country more attractive and straightforward for Chinese investors and tourists as he looks to generate more foreign investment into France and revive its languishing economy.

Hollande courts Chinese investors to boost economy

Hollande said Paris is willing to build closer business ties with Beijing and make the French market more open to Chinese investors. He made his remarks at a Lunar New Year reception at Elysee Palace attended by 500 members of the Asian community in Paris, including business representatives from Chinese companies.

"France is going to take measures to enable more Chinese and Asian tourists, entrepreneurs, researchers and students to come to France," he said.

He called President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to France "an exceptional visit" that could further boost political and business relations.

Earlier on Monday, Hollande met with leaders of more than 30 multinational companies - such as Siemens, Volvo, Nestle and Samsung - and representatives of sovereign wealth funds from China, Kuwait and Qatar. His aim was to attract foreign investments and to convince business leaders that France remains an open and friendly market.

Analysts said the meeting was Paris' latest offensive effort to attract foreign investors who have been deterred by France's high taxes and declining industrial competitiveness. Foreign direct investment in France declined by 77 percent last year; FDI in Germany, on the other hand, quadrupled, according to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report.

Although Hollande's pro-business stance has been criticized by French left-wing politicians and trade-union leaders, experts said his remarks on Monday sent a positive signal to foreign businesses at a time when France needs foreign capital to help address its high unemployment rate and massive public deficit.

"The statement by the French government reflects the increasing competition among European countries for foreign investment and France's eagerness to increase its industrial competitiveness," said Yan Jufen, chief representative of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade in France.

Last year, Hollande rolled out the red carpet at the Elysee Palace for a group of China's wealthiest entrepreneurs. The event was considered the French government's first high-profile reception for a Chinese business delegation.

"Making it easier to get a visa to France is the first step," Yan said. "The Chinese business community also pays close attention to potential reforms of France's tax system and its rigid employment policies."

Yan added that France remains an attractive investment destination for Chinese companies because of its high-quality workforce, high-end technological knowledge and consumer brands.

Hollande also announced on Monday a "talent visa" aimed specifically at highly qualified graduates, investors and skilled workers that he said were "needed in France".

The government plans to grant automatic five-year visas to business representatives who travel regularly to France. Hollande said a new agency will be established to help foreign startups in France, with initial grants of 25,000 euros in cash.

 Hollande courts Chinese investors to boost economy

Hollande courts Chinese investors to boost economy

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