Cablegate: France 2008 Investment Climate Statement

DE RUEHFR #0141/01 0281446
R 281446Z JAN 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 07 STATE 158802

1. Investment Climate Statement


A. French Investment Regime

A1. Openness to Foreign Investment
A2. Conversion and Transfer Policies
A3. Expropriation and Compensation
A4. Dispute Settlement
A5. Performance Requirements and Incentives
A6. Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
A7. Protection of Property Rights
A8. Transparency of the Regulatory System
A9. Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
A10. Political Violence
A11. Corruption

B. Bilateral Investment Agreements

C. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

D. Labor

E. Foreign Free Trade Zones/Ports

F. Foreign Investment Statistics

A. French Investment Regime

Ensuring that France's investment climate is attractive to foreign
investors is a stated priority for the French government, which sees
foreign investment as a way to create jobs and stimulate growth.
Debate in France over "economic patriotism" has caused some
observers to question the depth of this commitment. Nevertheless,
investment regulations are simple, and a range of financial
incentives for foreign investors are available. A public and
commercial establishment, the French Agency for International
Investment (Agence Francaise pour les Investissements Internationaux
- AFII) integrates all offices responsible for promoting investment
in France. The agency combines the overseas offices of the Invest
in France Agencies (IFA), with the Invest in France Network (IFN)

Foreign investors say they are attracted to France by its skilled
and productive labor force, good infrastructure, technology, and
central location in Europe. EU membership, which mandates the free
(with certain limitations) movement of people, services, capital and
goods across the European Union, took on even greater significance
with the introduction of Euro coins and bills in January 2002.
However, despite considerable economic reform and market
liberalization over the past decade, U.S. and foreign companies
often point to the tax environment, high cost of labor, rigid labor
markets and occasional negative attitudes toward foreign investors
as disincentives to investing in France. U.S. investors have
welcomed tax, labor and pension reform initiatives launched by
President Sarkozy in 2007, and expect an increase in U.S. foreign
direct investment in France.

A1. Openness to Foreign Investment

The Formal Investment Regime

The formal French investment regime remains among the least
restrictive in the world. While there is no generalized screening of
foreign investment, legislation passed at the end of 2005 dictates
that acquisitions, irrespective of size or nationality, involving
"sensitive" sectors are subject to prior approval by the Finance
Minister ([] - search for the 31
December 2005 French Official Journal, decree 2005-1739 of 30
December 2005). Acquisitions involving sensitive sectors are
screened. Sensitive sectors include: gambling activities, private
security services, research, development or production of chemical
or biological medicines, equipment for intercepting communications
or eavesdropping, security services for computer systems, dual-use
(civil and military) technologies; cryptology, firms that are
repositories of defense secrets, firms that research, produce and
sell military equipment, and lastly any other industry supplying the

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defense ministry any of the goods or services described above. Some
investments in sensitive sectors require the consensus of several
ministries, including the Defense Ministry. Only 30 cases were
examined by the Finance Ministry in 2006 and all were approved.
Only two transactions related to defense matters were rejected in
the last ten years.

The EU Commission initially questioned whether the December 2005
decree respected the free circulation of capital and the freedom of
establishment within the EU. The 2005 decree introduced a
distinction between E.U. investors and non-EU investors, with a less
restrictive regime applying to the former. However, the difference
in treatment is often minimal.

The decree also changes the triggers for Government of France (GOF)
investment scrutiny for firms in the sensitive sectors, stating that
any investment that grants control of a firm, or surpasses the 33
percent threshold, or involves any part of any branch of any firm
that has established headquarters in France, is subject to GOF

Authorities also consider the place of residence rather than the
nationality of a potential investor. The place of residence of a
corporate investor is determined by the location of its owners,
without regard to place of incorporation. While firms owned or
controlled by American citizens who are legal residents in an EU
country will usually be considered as EU residents, France will
normally consider firms established or incorporated in other EU
countries, and owned or controlled by American residents as non-EU

To determine if non-EU investors control a firm, the French
government looks at the residency of the headquarters ("siege
social") and the ability of non-EU investors to veto key management
decisions or commercial ties (such as loans, guarantees, options,
licenses, or contracts) that might effectively make the French
company dependent on foreign investors. Firms with questions about
their residency status should contact the Office of Foreign
Investments at the following addresses:

Ministere de l'Economie, des Finances et de l'Industrie,
Direction Generale du Trsor et de la Politique Economique:

Multicom 2 - Services, Investissements et Propriete Intellectuelle
139, rue de Bercy
75012 Paris, France
Tel: (33)1 44-87-72-87

Agence des Participations de l'Etat
139, rue de Bercy
75012 Paris, France
Tel: or (33)1 40-04-04-04
Information may be found on the Finance Ministry's website:

AFII's website ( in
English) explains the basic regulations covering foreign direct
investment. It provides a general framework on legal issues to help
businesses in its "Doing Business in France" section. The website
of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry provides French
summaries of regulations applicable to foreign direct investment:

Informal Impediments to Foreign Investors

France has implemented some market-oriented economic reforms that
increase the attractiveness of the French economy to foreign
investors, and offers a variety of investment incentives. France is
closing the gap with the U.S. and some other European countries in
personal computer use and Internet access.

Yet, while today's foreign investors face less interference than
before, after more than a decade of reforms, France has not entirely
overcome a traditional preference for state intervention and a
sometimes reflexive opposition to foreign investment. In some
cases, this can be seen in labor organization opposition to
acquisitions of French businesses by U.S. firms, often reflecting a
perception that U.S. firms focus on short-term profits at the
expense of employment. In other cases, French firms have stated a
preference for working with French and European rather than U.S.
firms. A degree of opaqueness in the privatization process (see

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below) can also aggravate suspicions about the equal treatment of
foreign investors in publicly held firms.

The process of deregulation is far from complete and the state
remains very involved in economic life. There is extensive
regulation of business and labor markets. Also, the corporate tax
rates are high in comparison to other leading industrial countries.
Foreign investors most often cite complicated and pervasive labor
regulation, high income and payroll taxes as the greatest
disincentives to investing in France. In the case of labor market
regulation, the impact on companies of the 35-hour legal workweek is
mixed. Many companies used the transition to the 35-hour workweek as
an opportunity to negotiate work-hour annualization programs with
employees that allow for greater labor flexibility. Companies also
benefited from a further cut in payroll taxes on low wages. On the
negative side, the 35-hour workweek increased unit labor costs since
total wages remained unchanged even though the number of hours
worked declined. The government is taking measures to make the law
less rigid and is seeking to introduce more flexibility in
employment contracts (See D. Labor).

By raising the minimum wage ("Salaire Minimum Interprofessionel de
Croissance - SMIC") an average of 2.1 percent (effective July 2007),
the Government provided low-wage workers a real 0.9 percent boost in
purchasing power. Despite the increase in the minimum wage, base
gross wages in the private sector are expected to increase at a
slightly lower rate compared with last year (2.7 percent versus 2.8
percent) as high unemployment restrains wage demands.

The government decision to cut income and payroll taxes in 2007
should make France a more attractive place for both French and
foreign investment. Finance Minister Lagarde is said to be weighing
further tax system changes, including a possible "social"
value-added tax increase to finance a payroll tax cuts.

The French have two social security taxes, the "Contribution Sociale
Generalisee" (CSG) and the "Contribution au Remboursement de la
Dette Sociale" (CRDS). U.S. contributors to the U.S. Social
Security system do not pay these taxes. (Based on the "May 2
2001-377 ordonnance" to apply the 1408/71 EEC regulation, only
"individuals who are subject to income taxes in France and
contribute to the French social security system including health
insurance pay CSG and CRDS".) The related "circulaire
d'application" was published in the May 20, 2001 "Bulletin Officiel
du Travail, de l'Emploi et de la Formation Professionnelle"
videotheque/bulletins-officiels/annee-2001/bu lletin-
officiel-no-2001-09-du-20-mai-2001-2758.html] .

On December 8, 2004, the United States amended the income tax
convention between the United States and France to avoid double
taxation and prevent tax evasion; along with the estate and gift tax
convention to avoid double taxation with respect to taxes on
estates, inheritances and gifts
policy/library/franceegprotocol04.pdf]. In December 2005, the
French government ratified the two amendments, and they entered into
force on December 21, 2006. The provisions resolve problems related
to the double taxation of partnerships and estates. The U.S.
Treasury provided a technical explanation in February 2006

English summaries of labor and tax regulations applicable to foreign
companies in France are available at the AFII's website
[, search "Your project in France"]
and at the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industries' website
([] search "fiches pratiques").

France's Privatization Program

The Socialist-led government that took office in July 1997 returned
to the private sector all or parts of the government's stakes in a
number of large companies, banks and insurance groups. U.S. firms
showed interest in some of these sales. A center-right government
elected in 2002 announced preliminary plans for further
privatization, but the global slump in air transportation and equity
markets put a brake in privatizations through the sale of shares.
In 2003 and 2004 the government reduced its stakes in large
companies such as Air France-KLM, France Telecom, Thales (formerly
Thomson CSF), Renault, and Thomson through TSA). Smaller projects,

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including the privatization of SAPRR (Paris-Rhine-Rhone Highway
Company) and of the electricity company SNET, also were carried out.
In the energy sector, the government sold shares in EDF and GDF,
but postponed the privatization of the nuclear power company, Areva.
A December 7, 2006 law authorizes the reduction of the government
stake in GDF to 33.33 percent from 70 percent to permit the merger
of Gaz de France (GDF) and Suez. The deal is still pending. After
a long selection process in 2005, toll-road companies ASF, APRR and
Sanef were privatized in 2006. The government reduced its stake in
Aeroports de Paris. The government sold a 2.5 percent stake in EDF
in 2007 and a 5.0 percent stake in France Telecom to reduce the
public debt. In January 2008, the government has stakes in listed
companies including Aeroports de Paris (68.38 percent), Air France
KLM (16.67 percent), CNP Assurances (1.09 percent), EADS (15.04
percent), EDF (84.85 percent), France Telecom (27.35 percent), Gaz
de France (79.78 percent), Renault (15.01 percent), Safran (30.42
percent), and Thalhs (27.30 percent), and in unlisted companies
including SNCF, RATP, CDC and La Banque Postale, and controls 1,143
smaller firms in a variety of sectors.

Sales of government interests are conducted either through
market-based public offerings or, more often, through an off-market
bidding process. In both cases, key decisions are made by the
Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry on the advice of the
quasi-independent "Commission des Participations et des Transferts"
(formerly known as the Privatization Commission). Both consider the
financial and business plans submitted by bidders. There is a
strict legal and procedural process regulating these decisions, but
the confidential nature of off-market sales can raise suspicions
about the equal treatment of foreign versus French bidders. This
can have a chilling effect on foreign investment. In the past, a
policy of selling former holdings to "core" shareholders in an
effort to avoid the splitting-up of companies or sales of sensitive
state assets to foreign investors also hampered market efficiency
and tended to favor French firms.

When privatizing state-owned firms either through off-market
placements or market-based offerings, the 1993 privatization law
gives the French government the option to maintain a so-called
"golden share" to "protect national interests." This provision is
not targeted at foreign companies and has not been a part of every
privatization process. A golden share gives the government three
legal rights:

-- To require prior authorization from the Ministry of the Economy,
Finance and Industry for any investor or group of investors acting
in concert to own more than a certain percentage of a firm's
capital. The thresholds would apply to all investors;

-- To name up to two non-voting members to the firm's board of
directors; and

-- To block the sale of any asset to protect "national interests."
Assets could include shares, but also buildings, technology,
patents, trademarks, and any other tangible or intangible property.

In June 2002 the European Court of Justice reaffirmed the basic
principle of free movement of capital in the EU and stated that the
use by some EU countries, including France, of golden shares was a
serious impediment to that principle. Nonetheless, a December 7,
2006 French law related to the energy sector includes the
possibility for the government to keep a golden share in Gaz de
France (GDF) to oppose any measure that might jeopardize the
security of energy supplies. The Government has also considered
retaining a golden share in the privatization of Areva through
loopholes in the court's decision. Areva's chairman has stated that
the golden share could be consistent with EU requirements.

French Government Participation in R&D Programs

Total annual R&D expenditures in France remain slightly above 2.1
percent of GDP. The GOF has confirmed its commitment to increase
total R&D spending to 3 percent of GDP by 2010 (consistent with the
EU's "Lisbon agenda" goals), with two percent coming from the
private sector. The French government relies on increased tax
credits and incentives for the development of new investment
structures to boost industrial research. Four sectors (automobile,
pharmaceutical, communication and aeronautics) account for more than
53 percent of research expenditure in the private sector. In the
public sector, research is handled by research organizations, higher

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education research centers and Defense ministry laboratories.

The GOF completed in 2006 an ambitious effort to reform its R&D
strategy, organization, evaluation, and funding. The new system
attempts to inculcate competition for government-funded research.
The Research and Innovation Bill, adopted in April 2006, reinforces
science-industry relations and promotes greater strategic direction.
In mid-2007, the government gave a new impulse to government-funded
research via a new university governance law. The new legislation
provides for a High Council for Science and Technology, a National
Research Agency, and reinforcement of "competitiveness clusters,"
and an Industrial Innovation Agency. Private enterprise will
benefit from more flexible working arrangements with government
scientists, as well as by receiving R&D tax incentives. The GOF
also supports partnerships between public research agencies and
universities within the framework of "Research and Higher Education
Hubs," and "Advanced Research Thematic Foundations," two new types
of cooperation.

"Research and higher education" is the top priority of the 2008
government budget, benefiting from a 1.8 billion euro increase
compared to 2007. "Research and higher education" accounts for 8.6
percent of total budget spending.

The GOF sponsors R&D and technology development programs at three
different levels:

1. International/European programs (e.g. ESA, CERN, EUREKA, EU
Framework program);

2. Technology development programs in the private sector (approx.
45 percent of R&D expenditures are funded by the French government),
with specific programs to encourage transfer of research and to aid
small and medium firms; and

3. National research programs (mostly administered by the Research
Ministry), with specific emphasis given to health and biotech (fight
against cancer, research on aging and handicaps, focus on new
epidemics, genomics/genetics); resource management (including food
resources, food safety, water management), sustainable development
and the fight against greenhouse gases (research on new sources of
energy, clean vehicles, energy storage and use of hydrogen, nuclear
systems and nuclear fusion); information and communication
technologies; nanotechnologies; and space.

Visas, Work Requirements

The government of France requires that foreign citizens complete
extensive procedures if they wish to work in France. The
requirements are essentially the same whether foreign citizens work
for French or foreign-controlled firms. Non-EU nationals who intend
to work or conduct any commercial activity in France must receive a
long-term visa and a work permit (Carte de travail) or business
permit (Carte de commercant - foreign trader's card) before
establishing residence in France. Information can be obtained from
French consulates in the United States. The web address is
[http://www.ambafrance-]. For more information on the
foreign trader's card, please consult the Invest in France agency
Web site at: [
america/en/launching-your-project.html]. For more information on
other types of visas and applicable fees, contact your local
Consulate General of France. In addition, a foreigner's ability to
practice a profession may be curtailed by government regulation and
the regulations of French professional associations. For example,
lawyers seeking to practice in France must become members of the
French bar before they can practice any type of law under their own
names. This requires passing the bar examination in French.

A2. Conversion and Transfer Policies

All inward and outward payments must be made through approved
banking intermediaries by bank transfers. There is no restriction
on repatriation of capital. Similarly, there are no restrictions on
transfers of profits, interest, royalties, or service fees.
Foreign-controlled French businesses are required to have a resident
French bank account and are subject to the same regulations as other
French legal entities. The use of foreign bank accounts by
residents is permitted.

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For exchange control purposes, the French government considers
foreigners as residents from the time they arrive in France. French
and foreign citizens are subject to the same rules. Residents are
entitled to open an account in foreign currency with a bank
established in France and to establish accounts abroad. Residents
must report the account number for all foreign accounts on their
annual income tax returns. French-source earnings may be
transferred abroad.

As part of the international effort to combat money laundering and
the financing of terrorism, France's banking regulations have
undergone several changes, which affect the handling of checks, as
recommended by the Financial Action Task Force. Additional changes
are expected. France sometimes uses its powers under national law
to freeze assets of terrorists.

A3. Expropriation and Compensation

Under French law, private investors are entitled to compensation if
their properties are expropriated, and such compensation must be
adequate and paid promptly. In France's bilateral investment
treaties, the French government promises to provide both prompt and
adequate compensation. There have been no recent disputes involving
expropriation of U.S. investments.

A4. Dispute Settlement

There have been few major disputes involving established U.S. firms
in recent years. Government decisions in investment cases can be
appealed to administrative tribunals and ultimately to the Council
of State (Conseil d'Etat). The rights of U.S. investors are also
protected by the U.S.-French bilateral convention (see Section B

The judicial system is independent. Property and contractual rights
are enforced by the French civil code. Judgments of foreign courts
are accepted and enforced by courts in France once they have been
"declared executor" by a French judge through "executor" proceedings
(Art. 2123 of the French Civil Code and Art. 509 of the Civil
Procedure Code). However, in some civil cases and in bankruptcy
cases, foreign judgments are recognized and enforced by French
courts without executor proceedings.

France is a member of the World Bank's International Center for the
Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID -
[]). In addition, in most of its
bilateral investment treaties (BIT's) France has agreed to accept
binding arbitration to resolve investor-state disputes. However,
most of France's BIT partners are developing countries whose
investors have few investments in France. (See below).

A5. Performance Requirements and Incentives

Investment Incentives

France offers a range of financial incentives to foreign investors.
The following information reflects incentives as they existed at
time of this writing. The government has a broad range of investment
and competitiveness measures in the legislative pipeline.

France's domestic planning and investment promotion agency, DIACT
(Delegation Interministerielle a l'Amenagement et la Competitivite
des Territoires) has a broad mandate, including increasing the
"attractiveness" of France for foreign investors and assisting
potential investors. In addition, financial subsidies and tax
incentives are offered at the local, regional and national
government level to attract investment to France's less affluent
areas. Incentives are available equally to French and foreign
investors and eligibility requirements are the same.

Within the French government, foreign investment promotion is the
responsibility of the AFII "Invest in France Mission" headed by an
ambassador-at-large, who is based at the Ministry of the Economy,
and backed up by DIACT. DIACT maintains offices throughout France
and around the world to seek out and advise potential investors on
project development, site selection, investment incentives (the
largest of which are administered by DIACT) and administrative and
legal requirements. DIACT's overseas offices were re-named "Invest
in France Agencies" (IFA -- IFANA in North America) in 2001. There
are three DATAR/IFANA offices in the United States:

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Northern and Eastern States

IFANA New York
810 Seventh Avenue, Suite 3800
New York, NY 10019
Tel: (212) 757-9340
Fax: (212) 245-1568

Western and Southern States

IFANA San Francisco
88 Kearny Street, Suite 700
San Francisco,
CA 94108
Tel: (415) 781 0986
Fax: (415) 781 0987

Midwestern States

IFANA Chicago
205 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 3750
Chicago, IL 60611
Tel: (312) 628-1054
Fax: (312) 628-1033

AFII's internet address is []. DATAR's
site, [] or [].

The primary investment incentive offered through DIACT is the Prime
d'Amenagement du Territoire (PAT). The government defined a new
list of eligible zones for the 2007-2013 period. Two implementing
decrees issued in May and June 2007 (2007-809 decree on May 11, 2007
and 2007-1029 on June 15 2007) provide details on the current PAT
system. The system requires job creation from investors (see
Performance Requirements), but its subsidies can be generous. PAT
may also be collected by firms that maintain employment when the
investment is significant. The system is even more flexible for
small and medium sized companies. Other investment incentives may
also be available. Potential investors should consult DIACT and
AFII to determine the full range of possibilities, including:

-- Research and development project grants, notably for businesses
located in competitiveness clusters

-- Special tax treatment for company headquarters

-- Local and regional tax holidays and special subsidies

-- "Industrial conversion" zones featuring tax breaks and grants for

-- Special access to credit for small and medium-sized enterprises

-- Assistance for training, including a portion of wages paid to
employees in training.

Besides DIACT/IFA at the national level, several French cities and
regions have developed their own investment promotion agencies that
advise potential investors, offer administrative assistance, and
oversee investment incentives. The February 2002 Local Democracy
Law ("Democratie de proximite" (])
gives regional councils ("Conseils Regionaux") full powers to
establish (without decree or national convention) schemes for direct
aid to companies (subsidies, reduced interest rates on loans, and
advances). Each "Conseil Regional" has it own website, which can be
found with any internet search engine using "conseil regional" and
the name of the appropriate region.

All incentives are covered under regulations set by the European

Performance Requirements

Other than those linked to incentives, there are no mandatory
performance requirements established by law. However, the French
government will generally require commitments regarding employment
or research and development from both foreign and domestic investors
seeking government financial incentives. PAT and R&D subsidies are
based on the number of jobs created. In addition, the authorities
have occasionally sought commitments as part of the approval process

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for acquisitions by foreign investors.

Nonetheless, foreign firms need the French government's approval on
a variety of regulatory issues, and in France, officials generally
have much wider discretion than their U.S. counterparts. This can
leave firms subject to "unwritten" performance requirements, with
regulatory officials making it known that a firm's request would be
more favorably viewed if it increased employment, R&D, or exports.

A6. Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

The French government maintains legal monopolies in the following
sectors: postal services (La Poste), national rail transportation
(SNCF), Parisian bus and metro services (RATP), and tobacco
manufacturing and distribution (Altaldis - former Seita). The
electricity and gas Companies (EDF/GDF) no longer have monopolies on
production, distribution and sale of electricity and gas. Market
opening in Europe has continued to increase -- meaning that
consumers are free to choose another supplier, although few have.
In July 2004, the option to switch suppliers was opened to all
commercial customers. After a critical piece of energy sector
reform legislation passed that same month, the first public sales of
shares for EDF and GDF began in 2005, leading effectively to a
partial privatization of the two companies.

A7. Protection of Property Rights

The French government continues its efforts to enforce intellectual
property rights. On October 16, 2007, the French Parliament
approved a GOF bill on counterfeiting which transposes into French
law the April 29, 2004 EU Directive on the enforcement of
intellectual property rights. On April 6, the GOF issued an
implementing decree regarding the interoperability articles of the
French Digital Copyright Law of August 2006. The decree established
a Technical Measures Regulation Authority (TMRA), which will decide
on issues of interoperability of digital rights management (DRM)
systems, as well as rights to copy original works for private use.
The law and decree create an uncertain environment for proprietary
DRM systems in France. Article 15 of the digital copyright law
could result in source code disclosure obligations on technical
protection measures and security software providers who make their
products available in France, though implementing regulations have
yet to be finalized. In order to strengthen French policy on
illegal downloading of music and movies, a commission appointed by
President Sarkozy presented a series of proposals in November 2007
to prevent piracy and to stimulate the growth of a legal digital
music and movie market. A number of these proposals should become
law in 2008.

France is a traditionally strong defender of intellectual property
rights and has highly developed protection for intellectual
property. Under the French system, patents and trademarks protect
industrial property, while literary/artistic property is protected
by copyrights. By virtue of the Paris Convention and the Washington
Treaty regarding industrial property, U.S. nationals have a
"priority period" after filing an application for a U.S. patent or
trademark in which to file a corresponding application in France.
This period is twelve months for patents and six months for

A8. Transparency of the Regulatory System

The French government has made considerable progress in recent years
improving the transparency and accessibility of its regulatory
system. Government Ministers, companies, consumer organizations and
trade associations may petition the Unfair Competition Council to
investigate anti-competitive practices.

Of most concern to foreign companies has been standards setting.
With standards different from those in the U.S., rigorous testing
and approval procedures must sometimes be undertaken before goods
can be sold in France. Where EU-wide standards do not exist,
specific French standards apply. The United States and the EU have
negotiated mutual recognition agreements covering the testing and
certification of certain specified regulated products. Information
about these agreements and efforts to extend them can be found at
the website of the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue,
[]. The importance of cooperation on regulatory
issues to the Transatlantic business environment was further
underscored during the French American Business Council (FABC),

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which met in November 6-7, 2007 in Washington. The Transatlantic
Economic Council, established last Spring at U.S.-EU annual Summit,
and which met on November 9, 2007, will also focus on improving
regulatory cooperation.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology,
[], is represented at the International Bureau
of Weights and Measures, [], located in Sevres,
France, and may be of assistance to firms.

Industry associations have an influential role in developing both
government policies and influencing self-regulatory organizations.
U.S. firms may find it useful to become members of local industry
groups. Experience has shown that even "observer" status can offer
U.S. firms an insight into new investment opportunities and greater
access to government-sponsored projects, even if U.S. firms
sometimes feel they are not always given an adequate opportunity to
participate in the determination of regulations.

A9. Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Access to Capital and Capital Markets

France has an open financial market that allows firms easy access to
a variety of financial products in both French and international
markets. As markets expand, foreign and domestic portfolio
investment has become increasingly important, France continues to
modernize its marketplace and in 2007 its main market, Euronext,
merged with the New York Stock Exchange.

France is actively involved in the effort to create a system of
internationally accepted accounting standards (to learn more, go to
[] or search the SEC's website at
[]. Most EU listed companies were required to
use international accounting standards from 2005. French market and
banking regulators enhanced and developed cooperation with their
foreign counterparts. Some aspects of French legal, regulatory and
accounting systems may not be as transparent as U.S. systems, but
they are consistent with international norms.

Commercial banks offer all classic financing instruments, including
short, medium, and long-term loans, short-and medium-term credit
facilities, and secured and non-secured overdrafts. Commercial
banks also assist in public offerings of shares and corporate debt,
mergers, acquisitions and takeovers. Banks offer hedging services
against interest rate and currency fluctuations. France has 161
foreign banks, one third of which are non-EU banks (some with
sizable branch networks) with total assets accounting for around 10
percent of total bank assets at the end of 2006. Foreign companies
have access to all banking services. Although some subsidies are
available for home mortgages and small business financing, most
loans are provided at market rates.

Increasingly, firms in France are bypassing banks and going directly
to financial markets for their financing needs. The center of the
French market is the Euronext stock exchange, formed on 22 September
2000 when the exchanges of Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris merged. The
Euronext group expanded at the beginning of 2002 with the
acquisition of LIFFE (London International Financial Futures and
Options Exchange) and the merger with the Portuguese exchange BVLP
(Bolsa de Valores de Lisboa e Porto). In February 2005, Euronext
Paris merged the three separate markets of the Paris exchange, the
cash market ("Marche au Comptant"), the regulated market ("Second
Marche") and the "Nouveau Marche" (growth segment) on which new
companies, especially smaller ones with an emphasis on growth and
technology, can raise start-up capital. The new market list
("Eurolist") was split in three segments based on the capitalization
of companies (150 million euros, 150 million to 1 billion euros, and
more than 1 billion euros). The changes are aimed at improving
liquidity and visibility of small- and medium-sized companies. A
financial futures market, the "Marche a Terme des Instruments
Financiers," commonly known as the MATIF, trades standard contracts
on interest rates, short- and long-term bonds, stock market indices,
and commodities. It has established linkages with its German and
Swiss counterparts as well as with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Options are traded on the "Marche des Options Ngociables de Paris"
(MONEP) exchange, operated by Euronext. Finally, though not nearly
as developed as in the United States or the United Kingdom, venture
capital has become an increasingly important way for start-up firms
to raise capital. In 2005, Euronext created a market, "Alternext,"
to offer companies a new unregulated market (based on the legal

PARIS 00000141 010 OF 017

definition of the European investment services directive) with more
consumer protection than the "Marche Libre." The NYSE merged with
Euronext in March 2007. As of December 2007, NYSE Euronext listed
4,566 companies, with a total capitalization of USD 2,944 billion.
The merger has increased international exposure to the European
exchange and reduced trading fees, which should attract more

Foreigners hold more than 40 percent of the capital of large
publicly traded French companies (CAC 40). For a foreign company
incorporated in an OECD country to be listed on the NYSE Euronext
stock exchange, it must be sponsored by a French bank or broker. It
must also prepare a French language prospectus to get a permit from
"Autorite des Marches Financiers - AMF," the French equivalent of
the SEC. Foreign companies are authorized to provide statements in
English and a short summary in French. Since July 1, 2005, France
has applied European regulation 809-2004 that details the content of
prospectuses. An application to the AMF must include a summary in
French or any other language commonly used in financial issues that
describes "essential information related to the content and
modalities of operations" as well as to the "organization, financial
situation and development of the activity of the company". Details
may be found on the AMF web site [], which
merged with the COB web site [].

The sponsoring bank or broker is responsible for placing the
securities with investors when the securities are listed and for
acting as a market maker. More information is available on the
Paris Stock Exchange website,


An intricate network of cross-shareholdings among French
corporations has often been seen as a barrier to foreign acquisition
of French firms. Often, two French companies will each own a
significant share of the other. This system, which was traditionally
a means to help ensure state-control of the economy, has weakened in
recent years under the pressure of the marketplace.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Although French laws regarding takeovers do not discriminate against
foreign investors, a hostile takeover in France by a foreign
investor could face public and even official scrutiny. Provisions of
the company takeover law are designed to limit hostile takeovers of
publicly traded companies. For example, according to a regulation
passed by the Parliament on December 15, 2005, stockholders are
required to notify company management and AMF when they have decided
to prepare a takeover. France extended its public offering rules by
imposing some additional obligations on investors taking control of
a company listed on a French market depending on the level of voting
rights in the targeted company and the nature of the proposed

In transposing the European takeover directive, France has tried to
reconcile its objectives of reestablishing its credentials as an
investor-friendly country, while allowing companies to defend
themselves against "predators." French companies may suspend
implementation of a takeover if they are targeted by a foreign
company that does not apply reciprocal rules. The government also
introduced an amendment allowing a U.S.-style "poison pill" takeover
defense, including granting existing shareholders and employees the
right to increase their leverage by buying more shares through stock
purchase warrants ("bons de souscription d'actions - BSA") at a
discount in case of an unwanted takeover. New provisions include a
reform of AMF supervisory procedures. Procedures cover declaration
of conformity, offer price, declaration of a bid in relation to
takeover rumors and nomination of an independent appraiser when
conflicts of interests exist

A10. Political Violence

Occasionally anti-American sentiments, particularly by those who see
themselves as threatened by U.S. policies, result in demonstrations
against U.S. investments. That said, such incidents are rare.
France is one of the world's leading democracies and a founding
member of the EU; there is little danger of insurrection,
belligerent neighbors, or widespread civil disturbances. Perceived

PARIS 00000141 011 OF 017

discrimination and a lack of economic opportunity contributed to
disturbances that affected poorer largely Muslim suburbs of France's
largest cities in recent years. Most observers believe the unrest
was fanned by small groups of youths looking for trouble, and
incidents of violence have largely dissipated. Moreover, since the
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, there have been relatively
fewer anti-American demonstrations in France as compared to prior

A11. Corruption

France has laws, regulations and penalties that effectively combat
acts of corruption committed in France. A 1993 law established a
Central Service for the Prevention of Corruption under the aegis of
the Ministry of Justice. The French judiciary is responsible for
prosecution, and is active in doing so.

French magistrates launched a probe in December 2006 against
officials from French oil company Total for the bribery of foreign
civil servants, a criminal offence in France since 2000, when the
GOF ratified the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and enacted
implementing legislation to enforce its provisions. The OECD
Anti-Bribery Conventions are enforced via amendments to the Criminal
code, which have been integrated into Articles 435-3 and 435-4 of a
new chapter on international corruption (Chapter V, Title III, Book
IV). Article 435-3 incriminates the offer or promise of a bribe,
but not the actual payment of a bribe, which is explicitly mentioned
in the convention. Furthermore, there is a difference in the
treatment of victims of bribery, depending on whether the bribery is
domestic, EU or foreign. In cases of bribery of GOF/EU officials,
any victim may initiate prosecution. In cases involving the bribery
of other foreign government officials, criminal proceedings may be
initiated only by the public prosecutor on the basis of a complaint
from a Government official in the country where the bribery took

The OECD Anti-Bribery convention is further enforced via amendments
to the Tax Code and to the Code of Criminal Procedure. Article 39-2
of the French Tax Code puts an end to the tax deductibility of
bribes as of the entry into force in France of the Convention
(September 29, 2000). Finally, Article 706-1 of the amended Code of
Criminal Procedure provides that acts criminalized by the OECD
Convention will be prosecuted in the Economic and Financial Unit of
the Paris Court of Justice.

In July 2007, French Parliament approved the additional protocol to
the Council of Europe's criminal convention on corruption.

There have been no specific complaints from U.S. firms of unfair
competition or investment obstacles due to corrupt practices in
France in recent years. More information on the international fight
against corruption can be found at the Internet site of Transparency
International []. According to
Transparency International's French Chapter, the sectors most
affected by corrupt practices tend to be public works and the
defense industry.

B. Bilateral Investment Agreements

1959 U.S.-France Convention on Establishment

U.S. investment in France is subject to the provisions of the
Convention on Establishment between the United States of America and
France, which was signed in 1959 and is still in force. Some of the
rights it provides to U.S. nationals and companies include:

-- The right to be treated like domestic nationals in all types of
commercial activities including the right to establish offices and
acquire majority control of French firms, and in obtaining and
maintaining patent and trademarks. (This right does not apply to
firms involved in communications, air transportation, water
transportation, banking, the exploitation of natural resources,
certain "professions," and the production of electricity) ;

-- The right to receive the best treatment accorded to either
domestic nationals and companies or third country nationals and
companies with respect to transferring funds between France and the

-- The requirement that property may only be expropriated for a
public purpose and that payment must be just, realizable and prompt.

PARIS 00000141 012 OF 017

The treaty does not apply to the use or production of fissionable
materials, arms or any materials that are used directly or
indirectly to supply military establishments. The treaty does not
prevent application of measures necessary to protect essential
security interests.

Bilateral Investment Treaties

Investments in France by other EU member states are governed by the
provisions of the Treaty of Rome and by Union Law. France has also
signed Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs - "Accords de protection
et d'encouragement reciproques des investissements") with the
following 85 countries: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Chile, China,
the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba,
Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea,
Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Haiti, Hong Kong, Honduras,
Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan,
Kazakhstan, Korea (South), Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Laos, Latvia,
Lebanon, Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius,
Mexico, Moldavia, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria,
Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, the
Dominican Republic, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Singapore,
Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Trinidad
and Tobago, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab
Emirates, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, and the
former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Bilateral Investment Treaties signed with the following 12 countries
have not yet been ratified: Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia, Brazil,
Ghana, Libya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Uganda, Zambia and

French BITs generally cover the following:

-- Just and equitable treatment that is no less favorable than that
accorded to domestic investors or the most favored investor from a
third country;

-- Restrictions on expropriation of investments, and requirements
that, in the case of expropriation, compensation is prompt and

-- Free transfers;

-- The ability to resolve investor-state disputes through binding
international arbitration.

C. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

Given France's high per capita income, investments in France do not
qualify for investment insurance or guarantees offered by the
Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Further information
can be found at [].

D. Labor

France's private sector labor force is one of the country's
strongest points in attracting foreign investment, combining high
quality with relatively competitive unit-wage costs compared with
those of other industrialized countries.

The labor code sets minimum standards for working conditions
including the workweek, layoffs, overtime, vacation and personal
leave. Part of President Nicolas Sarkozy's economic reforms ("Work
more to earn more") has aimed at greater flexibility regarding the
35-hour workweek. Tax exemptions on overtime work were included in
the GOF's fiscal packaged approved by Parliament and took effect
October 1, 2007. Employees working overtime are exempt from
personal income tax on those hours, and employees and employers
benefit from reduced payroll taxes on overtime work. Business
welcomed the GOF's efforts, but has complained that the implementing
regulations are confusing and costly for French companies.

Talks between employers and unions on revising labor contracts to
make hiring and firing easier resulted in agreement on a number of
points in early 2008. The government had threatened to introduce a
tougher draft bill in Parliament if the talks had broken down. The
agreed-upon measures will have to be approved by Parliament.

PARIS 00000141 013 OF 017

The President' proposal to streamline assistance to job-seekers by
merging France's national job placement and unemployment agencies is
currently before Parliament, with the government hoping that the
bill will be enacted before the March 2008 municipal elections.

At the end of 2006, France adopted an employees' shareholding law
("Loi sur la Participation"), which involves some changes in the
labor code. The law encourages the purchase of shares by employees,
the development employees' investment/retirement savings accounts,
and better representation of employees as shareholders. Employees in
large companies who are laid off for economic reasons may benefit
from "mobility leave" which involves training, short-term contracts,
or transfer to another company within a pole of competitiveness. A
new "transport allowance" will benefit employees who commute using
public or private transportation. ([]
- search the 31 December 2006 French Official Journal - law
2006-1770 of 30 December 2006).

Other labor standards are contained in collective agreements, which
are usually negotiated by sector on a national or regional basis by
the various trade union federations and employers' associations.
French absenteeism is modest by European standards, and in the
private sector peaceful labor relations generally prevail.

While the rate of unionization in France has steadily declined to a
little more than half that of the United States, French labor law
provides an extensive institutional role for employee
representatives and for organized labor.

-- In companies with more than 10 employees, employee delegates are
elected for a one-year term. They are authorized to present
individual or collective claims and grievances relating to working
conditions, to inform government labor inspectors of any complaints
under the labor law, and to concur with management in any
reorganization of the workweek. Management is required to meet with
employee delegates at least monthly.

-- A company with more than 50 employees must have a joint
management/employee enterprise committee, to which employee
representatives are elected. The committee must be consulted for all
major corporate decisions, but has no veto. The enterprise committee
must be provided with the same information that is made available to
shareholders. It is funded by the company at a rate equal to at
least 0.2 percent of the firm's payroll, and uses this money to
finance social and cultural activities for the benefit of employees.

-- Workers also hold most slots on occupational health and safety
committees, which are mandatory in medium and large size companies.
Labor tribunals (playing a role largely equivalent to the NLRB in
resolving labor disputes) are comprised of equal numbers of union
and employer representatives. Appeals are possible to the level of
the "Cour de Cassation," one of France's high courts.

Due to a variety of macro and microeconomic factors, including high
payroll taxes, a high minimum wage, and rigid labor laws, French
businesses tended to use less labor-intensive procedures and rely
more on labor saving technology than businesses in other countries.
This is one reason for France's high unemployment rate.

E. Foreign Free Trade Zones/Ports and Competitiveness Clusters

France is subject to all European Union free trade zone regulations
and arrangements. These allow member countries to designate portions
of their customs territory as free trade zones and free warehouses
in return for commitments in favor of employment. France has taken
advantage of these regulations in several specific instances. The
French Customs Service administers these zones and can provide more
details. Customs can be contacted at the finance ministry web
address: [] use search to find information
about "zones franches")]. France has redesignated trade zones in
May 2007 [http://www.zones- f].

In addition, the French government has extended the tax exemption
program for five years, until December 31, 2011, in the existing
urban "enterprise zones" ("Zones Franches Urbaines"). Since January
2004, all such zones benefited from tax exemptions on corporate tax,
payroll taxes, professional tax and real estate tax. The December
19, 2006 decree designated new urban zones. Related information is

PARIS 00000141 014 OF 017

available at the City Government web site
[ ?cidText

More information on enterprise and investment zones is available
from various sources: []
[] []
[] for assistance to small and medium sized

France has 71 competitiveness clusters including projects with
international ties and with related missions. The clusters are
designed to reinforce innovation and encourage innovative businesses
to remain in France. They will benefit from income and social tax
exemptions []. Clusters involved in
research and innovation will also benefit from financial support
from the state-owned investment bank Caisse des Depots.

F. Foreign Investment Statistics

Foreign investment represents a significant percentage of production
in many sectors. Rapid growth in the new technologies sector has
given way to renewed growth in traditional sectors: automobiles,
metalworking, aerospace, capital goods, consultancy and services.
France has remained one of the main destinations of foreign direct
investment (FDI). According to recent UNCTAD's classification,
France is the third recipient of foreign direct investment inflows
due to a 57 percent rebound in 2007. Foreign direct investment
inflows accounted for 3.6 percent of GDP. The U.S. remained one the
largest sources of FDI in France. Using Bank of France balance of
payments data based on the historical book value of investment, U.S.
firms accounted for 11.8 percent of the stock of foreign investment
in 2005 (most recent data available), slightly down from 12.2
percent in previous years.

Using the book value instead of the market value of investments
tends to underestimate the value of U.S. investment in France. This
is because investments by U.S. companies tend to be considerably
older than other countries' investments and because U.S. firms often
finance expansions and acquisitions on domestic French capital
markets or through subsidiaries in third countries. Thus, much U.S.
investment in France is not recorded in balance of payments
statistics, even though it may ultimately be controlled by U.S.
citizens. The December 30, 2005 decree 2005-1739 on financial
relations with foreign countries defines foreign investment
operations that have to be notified to the Bank of France for the
establishment of the balance of payments and France's external
position. Firms with questions should contact the Bank of France at
the following address:

Banque de France
Service de la Balance des Paiements
31, rue Croix-des-Petits Champs

Correcting for statistical biases, and including the value of U.S.
holdings of French stocks, the market value of the stock of U.S.
investment in France may be as much as five times the USD 60.9
billion (or USD 65.9 billion for 2006) book value for 2005 reported
in U.S. Department of Commerce data ([] search in
International). About 1,326 affiliates of U.S. firms are established
in France. Around 619,900 jobs result from U.S.-originated

Today, foreign-controlled firms play a significant role in France's
economy, accounting for 15 percent of capital expenditures, 30
percent of exports, and 17 percent of value added.

An updated list of recent U.S. investment projects ors may be found
on [http://www.invest-in-

Lists of foreign investors by industry can be found at the American
Chamber of Commerce in France.
156, boulevard Haussmann
75008 Paris
Tel: 01 56 43 45 67 Fax: 01 56 43 45 60 Useful information on the first 1000
companies and financial institutions established in France can be
found in local periodicals such as Expansion ("Les 1000 de

PARIS 00000141 015 OF 017

[ t/atlas.
asp?idc=124715&typerec=3&code secteur1000=1]).

Stock by country of origin (Book value) (USD billions)

2003 2004 2005

EU (25) 347 434 497

EU (12) 263 327 375
of which

Netherlands 82 89 96
Belgium 58 68 79
Germany 58 73 77
Luxemburg 32 44 54
Italy 15 20 25

Other EU (15) 83 106 120
Of which
UK 74 93 106
Sweden 6 6 7

New EU 1 1 2

Other Industrialized
countries 109 136 145
Of which
USA 63 72 78
Switzerland 27 37 38
Canada 5 8 8
Japan 10 14 13

Other countries 17 16 20

Total 473 586 662

Total as percent of GDP 26.2 28.4 31.0
(Exchange rate:)
USD 1.00 equals Euro 0.88 0.80 0.80

Source: Bank of France

Stock of Foreign Investment in France (Market value) (USD billions)

2003 2004 2005

Total 695 960 1062

Total as percent of GDP 38.5 41.2 31.0
(Exchange rate:)

Source: Bank of France

Stock by Industrial Sector of Origin (Book value)(USD billions)

2003 2004 2005

Manufacturing 149 189 218
Of which
-Chemical Industry 50 51 63
-Processed Food 17 22 26
Real estate
and Services to companies 141 174 208
Financial Intermediation 71 91 102
Other 83 116 128
Total 473 586 662
(Exchange rate:)
USD 1.00 equals Euro 0.88 0.80 0.80

Source: Bank of France

Flows by country of origin (Market value) (USD billions)

2004 2005 2006

EU (25) 28 65 62

EU (12) 18 48 46
of which

PARIS 00000141 016 OF 017

Netherlands 0 9 16
Spain 3 8 8
Belgium 3 7 6
Italy 2 2 3

Other EU (15) 10 16 16
of which
UK 8 16 14
Denmark 1 0 1
Sweden 0 0 1

New EU members (1) 0 0 1

Other Industrialized
Countries 7 13 13
Of which
USA 5 8 8
Switzerland 1 2 2
Canada 0 0 1
Japan 0 1 1

Other countries -5 4 5

Total 30 81 80

Total as percent of GDP 1.6 3.9 3.8
(Exchange rate:)
USD 1.00 equals Euro 0.88 0.80 0.80

Source: Bank of France

Stock by country of destination (Book value) (USD billions)

2003 2004 2005

EU (25) 381 485 584

EU (12) 268 343 409
of which

Netherlands 70 93 104
Belgium 72 78 91
Germany 48 73 79
Italy 24 28 44

Other EU (15) 102 127 156
Of which
UK 95 117 143
Sweden 6 6 7

New EU (1) 11 16 19

Other industrialized
countries 216 228 275
of which
USA 140 148 180
Switzerland 25 28 32
Canada 27 22 28
Japan 13 17 19

Other countries 52 59 71

Total 649 772 930

Total as percent of GDP 36.0 37.4 43.6
(Exchange rate:)
USD 1.00 equals Euro 0.88 0.80 0.80

Source: Bank of France

Stock of French FDI Abroad (Market value) (USD billions)

2003 2004 2005

Total 1,086 1,333 1,658

Total as a percent of GDP 60.2 64.5 80.3

Stock by Industrial Sector Destination (Book value)(USD billions)

2003 2004 2005

PARIS 00000141 017 OF 017

Manufacturing 214 257 306
Of which
-Chemical Industry 46 54 64
-Processed Food 18 24 36
Finance Intermediation 126 164 184
Real estate and
Services to companies 94 108 127
Other 215 243 313
Total 649 772 930
(Exchange rate:)
USD 1.00 equals Euro 0.88 0.80 0.80

Source: Bank of France

Flows by country of destination (Market value) (USD billions)

2003 2004 2005

EU (25) 38 81 62

EU (12) 27 62 44
of which
Belgium 5 14 12
Germany 8 4 10
Italy 1 14 5
Netherlands 6 13 10

Other EU (15) 8 17 15
Of which
UK 7 12 15
Denmark 0 4 0
Sweden 1 1 0

New EU members (1) 3 2 2

Other Industrialized
Countries 3 21 38
Of which
USA 2 9 18
Switzerland 2 6 13
Canada 4 1 1
Japan 2 2 2

Other countries 2 27 50

Total 43 110 114

Total as a percent of GDP 2.8 5.9 5.3
(Exchange rate:)
USD 1.00 equals Euro 0.88 0.80 0.80

Source: Bank of France
(1) Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland,
Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia.


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