Wichita (KS), le 10 février 2011. Discours prononcé par le Consul général de France sur le thème "Why is France important for Kansas and the USA" à l’occasion d’un diner-conférence intitulé "Doing Business With France : Aerospace Industry" organisé par le World Trade Council of Wichita et Ubifrance.

Wichita (KS), February 10, 2011. Speech given by the Consul General of France on "Why is France important for Kansas and the USA" on the the occasion of a diner-conference on "Doing Business With France : Aerospace Industry" organized by the World Trade Council of Wichita and Ubifrance .



I would like to thank you for inviting me to this event organized by Ubifrance and dedicated to “doing business with France : Aerospace industry”. I am especially grateful to the World Trade Council of Wichita for organizing my first stay in the “Air capital of the world”.

As an introduction, I would like to begin by highlighting the importance of the historical background between France and the United States. We have been tied since the first French explorers discovered the New World in the XVII century. They explored and settled in the Midwest, along the Mississippi River, in particularly in Kansas where some 95 000 people claim to be of French or French Canadian ancestry. I’m proud to say that my hometown, La Rochelle, was the main port of departure for expeditions at that time. Let me also recall that France was the first ally of the young United States and sent troops to help American colonies win their independence. 45,000 French soldiers headed by Lafayette played a crucial role in the battle of Yorktown. More recently, twice during the last century, the United States helped us to preserve our own independence and democracy. In this context, iIt is important to pay tribute to the sister city partnership between Wichita and Orleans established in August 1944, when American forces, including the 137th infantry from the Kansas 35th division, liberated this French city.

Today, France and the U.S have a unique relationship based on multifaceted cooperation, common values and mutual fascination. Our two countries are also the birth places of the airspace industry with pioneers like Lindberg or Blériot. Today, the French airspace industry raises accounts for 14 billion Eeuros in sales profit and is the biggest contributor to French exports with companies like EADS/Airbus, Safran, Snecma or Dassault aviation. What is remarkable is that 15 % of the turnover is dedicated to Research and Development. The major airspace French companies are present in Wichita and many more would like to work with Wichita-based US companies. Airspace is today a melting pot of international expertise. Airbus has, for instance, 1,500 subcontractors from 30 countries in the world. The airspace industry is also a unique example of transatlantic cooperation like, for instance, the joint venture CFM between SNECMA and General Electric in the field of civil aircraft engines.

The question I would like to discuss today is why is France so important for the USA ?

I. France is a key player on the world stage

France is a founding member of the UN and one of the five permanent members of the Security Council. It is one of the founding members of NATO and of the EU, which was born under the leadership of France and Germany. The G6 now G8 was the initiative of France in 1975. More recently, France and the US crafted the G20 in 1999, in the wake of the Asian financial crisis to bring together major advanced and emerging economies to stabilize the global financial market. This demonstrates France’s attachment to a multilateral approach, which is at the heart of our long tradition of diplomacy.

France has the second largest diplomatic network in the world, after the US. In comparison to countries of similar size, France is actively engaged in a wide scope of actions and contributions around the globe. One of the main features of its diplomatic action is a significant cultural and educational presence abroad, including over 550 cultural institutions and 230 French schools. France also plays a central role in coordinating the cooperation among the group of French speaking countries gathered under the international organization of Francophonie. This body counts 75 States and governments and represents over 220 million French-speaking people around the world.

Along with the U.S, France, as an ally, partner and friend, shares responsibility in facing global challenges. Today, France has 12,000 soldiers deployed oversees including 4,000 thousand in Afghanistan. Together, we are fighting terrorism, piracy and working to promote peace and development. France is the world’s second largest public aid donor, providing 10 billion eEuros annually. It is an essential dimension of our foreign policy based on solidarity, generosity and openness to the world. It is also an important tool in fighting poverty, and ensuring economic growth and security. France is fully mobilized in the international effort to manage different crises, such as Georgia in 2008, and today Iran and the financial crisis. I hope these examples emphasize France’s global vision and its commitment in shaping the international landscape.

II. France’s economic impact

France is not only the first tourist destination in the world (75 M.), it is also a major economy offering a lot of opportunities for business.

- France is the 5th largest economy in the world and the second largest in Europe. It is the world’s second largest agricultural producer after the US.

- France, with a growing population of 64.3 million inhabitants, is the second largest consumer market in Europe. It is a country with top infrastructures for instance in the areas of transportation (highways and high speed train) and energy (nuclear plants supply 77 % of French electricity).

- France is an open economy with a global outlook. Foreign companies in France account for over 40 % of French exports and over 20 % of R&D spending.

- France is a “scientific country” home of some of the best mathematics and engineering schools in the world. Many well-established cooperation programs exist between French and US universities and research institutions.

- After the US and China France is the world’s third largest recipient of Foreign Direct Investment. With 85 Billion dollars in stocks, the US is the first foreign investor in France and the first destination of French investments (189 billions dollars).

- There are no less than 4,200 US companies established in France generating 770,000 jobs. On the other hand, 3,800 French companies are operating in the US, creating 550,000 jobs, around 90,000 in the Midwest alone.

- The USA is France’s largest trading partner outside of the EU. More than 1.2 billion $ in commercial transactions including those of US and French foreign affiliates take place every day.

III. France is a major Gateway for the US in the EU.

One of the main reasons for high numbers of US foreign direct investments in France is its unique position as a gateway to the EU, the world’s single largest market. The EU represents 43 % of world import and 41 % of world export. (North America : 17 % of world import, 13 % of world export).

- France has the second largest population and economy in the EU. As one of its founders along with Germany, they are considered Europe’s main engine.

- France offers rapid connections throughout Europe and some of the most cost effective locations in this vast market.

I know that today, China’s spectacular economic development offers a lot of business opportunities, but the transatlantic relations remain the anchor of the world economy. The US and Europe represent together more than 50 % of the world’s GDP. The US foreign direct investment in Europe is, in stocks, 40 times larger than in China and our trade is about 4 trillion, 4 and 12 zeros… per year. In 2009, the European market was more than three times the size of the one of China for the US exports

The transatlantic link is not only economic but it is also deeply rooted in our common history, cultural heritage and robust democratic values. We share the same vision of our futures, which are closely connected. As President Obama properly stated “America can’t meet our global challenges alone, nor can Europe meet them without America”. That is why Europe and France, a major ally, partner and Friend, are so important for the US./.

Dernière modification : 05/07/2011

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