Let’s talk about ’Economic diplomacy’!
Economic diplomacy is becoming a major priority for the Quai d’Orsay. Economic recovery is a priority for France. Such recovery occurs particularly on the international scale. In a globalized world, economic criteria play a major role in the redistribution of power. France has the will to treat economic diplomacy as an essential factor in growth and international influence.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs will make decisive contributions in this regard.
The French economic diplomacy, which is also ecological diplomacy, will also work towards two complementary objectives:
- supporting our companies on the international market;
- attracting new, job-creating foreign investment to our country.
The promotion of our economic interests is already a priority mission of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its role as the central administration for our network of embassies.
The availability of these embassies and their services is widely recognized, even though our diplomatic corps, mobilized by traditional concerns and increasingly-prevalent crises, has not always been able to make economic affairs a priority.
A great many professionals and organizations are dedicated to fulfilling their respective missions to the greatest degree of success possible, even if synergy between these different units has not yet been fully established.
Some examples are the following: French ambassadors; the network of economic counsellors; UbiFrance, the agency responsible for promoting the international growth of French companies; COFACE, a credit insurance company; the Invest in France Agency; OSEO, a French agency dedicated to innovation; Chambers of Commerce; and the network of international trade counsellors. We must turn more towards sources of growth (particularly BRICs) and towards initiating contact with groups and individuals likely to invest in France.
It also bears noting that more often than not, major contracts receive more attention than day-to-day trade and large companies receive more attention than SMEs. On the subject of SMEs, the next year will bring international support for SMEs from the part of the Banque Publique d’Investissement (BPI). Regional activities are not coordinated enough.
Nine proposals for our economic diplomacy:
Provide support to our companies abroad, particularly SMEs. Promote Destination France with regards to foreign investment—this is an ongoing high-priority objective for our diplomatic network.
Create, at the Quai d’Orsay, a central Management Centre dedicated to supporting companies (not only major companies, but also SMEs) and to economic affairs.
Situate ambassadors as heads of the “French export team”, grouping together under their direction all of the public structures providing international support to companies and simplifying these structures as necessary. An Economic Council will be established around each ambassador in our primary posts.
In each diplomatic post dealing with regulatory or normative issues (particularly at the European Union level and in negotiations of bilateral and multilateral agreements), establish simple procedures giving companies the opportunity to express their expectations, concerns, and interests in advance and in the course of negotiations. The principle of reciprocity will be systematically protected in European and international negotiations.
Reinforce the economic aspect of ministerial visits and interviews.
Develop connections between our means of exerting influence (training of foreign students, scholarships, international academic network, Institut Français, etc) and the promotion of our economic interests.
In certain countries, designate particular figures of international standing to accompany our diplomatic corps.
Reinforce the economic aspect of training programs for our diplomats. Encourage candidate profiles including economic knowledge, particularly regarding exportation, SME-specific problems, and innovation.
- Increase Quai d’Orsay openness to companies and develop regular dialogue with economic and social partners (annual Quai d’Orsay open doors event, messages to companies in press briefings, transmission of economic information on Ministry websites and social media networks…).