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France keen on Chinese investment
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France expects more Chinese companies to invest in the country by providing a better business environment, said Philippe Favre, president of the government-backed Invest in France Agency, yesterday in Shanghai.

Investing in France can assist Chinese firms to go global and gain easy access to the European market, he said.

Foreign investment created 34,517 jobs in France last year and covered 624 projects, the third highest since the IFA started compiling data in 1993.

Among them, Chinese companies generated nearly 2,000 jobs, compared with about 1,500 in 2006.

"France ranks third in attractiveness for foreign investment. Its advantages include highly skilled labor and relatively low costs,'' Favre said. ''The business environment will be improved this year as the government gives more tax breaks for overtime payment as well as research and development.''

Free services Chinese companies make 20 or so investments each year valued at about 500 million euros (US$759 million).

The IFA's Shanghai office, set up four years ago, facilitates Chinese firms to invest in France. It provides free services, including visa issues, to help them find location and local partners.

"Although China is not yet a major player in terms of international investment projects, these have increased consistently and formed a trend which greatly benefited France,'' said the IFA in a report.

Also, Chinese firms tend to increasingly use acquisitions as a speedy and effective investment route, such as China National Bluestar (Group) Corp's purchase of French firms Adisseo and Rhodia.

"We expect more Chinese companies to invest in France. To make a presence in Europe is a requirement for a company to become global - the goal of many Chinese firms,'' said Favre, adding that Chinese firms should enter research and development, tourism, logistics, pharmaceutical, fashion industries.

(Shanghai Daily March 4, 2008)

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