Business France Nordic

Why choose France : key facts and figures

Foreign investors are welcome to France

Over 28,000 foreign companies are doing business in France, employing more 1,8 million people (France Attractiveness Scoreboard 2018). Nordic companies employ about 150,000 people in France:

  • 95,000 in Swedish companies,
  • 40,000 in Danish companies,
  • 15,000 in Finnish companies
  • 4,500 in Norwegian companies.

The contribution of foreign companies to the French economy represents 16% of value added, 21% of the workforce in industry and 30% of all French export.

France has the 11th highest cumulative FDI stock in the world (UNCTAD, 2018), and the 5th highest in Europe. Here the ranking of Nordic FDI in France (Banque de France, 31/12/2017):

  • Finland is the 10th investor, with €17,9 billion FDI stock,
  • Sweden is the 13th investor, with €6,3 billion FDI stock,
  • Denmark is the 14th investor, with €6,1 billion FDI stock,
  • Norway is the 21st investor, with €2,5 billion FDI stock.

In 2017, France was Europe’s 3rd leading recipient of job creating foreign investments, attracting 1,298 FDI projects, up 16% from the previous year:

  • Sweden: 44 projects created or saved 825 jobs,
  • Denmark: 15 projects created or saved 224 jobs,
  • Finland: 10 projects created or saved 284 jobs,
  • Norway: 5 projects created or saved 93 jobs

France has been Europe’s leading destination for industrial investment for more than 15 years (EY) by project numbers. There were 343 investments in industrial activities in 2017, representing 26% of all investments. The number of jobs generated by production/manufacturing investments grew sharply (+44%). For example, the Swedish Volvo Group announced several expansions in 2017 at production sites in France, creating more than 160 jobs in the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region.

A global economic market

France is the 7th largest economy in the world and the world’s 7th largest foreign investor.

France is the 2nd largest consumer market in Europe, with more than 66 million inhabitants. 

It offers a wide array of business opportunities for investors and has a proven track record of attracting and retaining foreign companies and key talent. More major industrial companies are headquartered in Paris than in any other European city. (Paris Europlace).

A leading financial centre in Europe

Paris is a leading financial market place in the Euro zone. With over 800,000 direct jobs and 400,000 indirect jobs, France’s financial industry accounts for over 4% of French GDP and is the 3rd largest sector by employment in Ile-de-France (Paris region).

Furthermore, the French model of universal banking, bringing together a wide range of jobs within the same institution, has proven its worth. France is home to four of the 10 largest players in Europe. (European Banking Authority – TdB 2018)

According to the Banque de France’s quarterly corporate bank lending survey for the second quarter of 2018, bank lending to SMEs has remained strong, and has been improving for micro-enterprises. 87% of SMEs obtained all or most of the cash advances they applied for in the second quarter of 2018. Seventy-three percent of micro-enterprises were granted the funds they sought, the highest level recorded since the end of 2014.

France was ranked 4th in Europe in 2017 for asset management – after Luxembourg, Ireland and Germany – with a market share of 12.3% for net assets managed by investment

In 2017, France was the 3rd European market for venture capital, with €2,6 billion funds raised (Dealroom, 2017).

A competitive business environment improved by reforms

Growth in labor costs has been firmly under control in France since 2013, notably in industry, thanks to the introduction of the competitiveness and employment tax credit (CICE) and the responsibility pact

The labor costs in industry may remain relatively high compared to the main euro zone countries, at €38.80 in 2017. Even though It is higher than the euro zone average (€33.40), Italy (€27.80) and Spain (€23.30), but it remains lower than Germany (€40.20), Sweden (€41.90) and Belgium (€44.80).

France is innovative

France has a longstanding commitment to R&D and innovation, strongly supported by the Government.

71 innovation clusters. The Paris-Saclay cluster has been ranked in the world’s top eight innovation clusters.

France is home to the most attractive R&D tax incentive program in Europe: France’s research tax credit covers 30% of all R&D expenses up to €100 million, and 5% above this threshold.

France is ranked first, ahead of the United Kingdom and Germany, for its effective corporate tax rate on R&D operations.

The ‘innovative new company’ status (Jeune Entreprise Innovante– JEI), provides exemptions from corporate tax, local taxes and social security contributions for eligible companies during their first eight years.

A 10 billion euros fund was created to support innovation, as announced by President Macron in June 2017.

France was Europe’s third largest recipient of R&D investments in 2017. Nearly 21% of business enterprise R&D is conducted by foreign companies.

France welcomes foreign talents

High hourly labor productivity rate, ahead of Germany and the UK. (The Conference Board, 2017)

1,6 million scientists and engineers and 44% of 25- to 34-years old have a tertiary education qualification, compared to 30,5% in Germany and 25,6% in Italy. (OECD, Education at a Glance, 2017)

Some of the best business schools in the world. 3 of the 6 best establishments offering Master’s courses in management are French. (FT 2017)

New and innovative players such as 42, a coding school in Paris that trains 900 developers per year.

France is the 4th most popular destination for students after the US and the UK, with 309,600 foreign nationals enrolled in higher education. (UNESCO, Atlas Project, 2016)

France stands out for its very high proportion of international students in advanced research programs2: 40% of PhD students are from overseas. Conversely, in Germany, only 9% of PhD students are foreign. (tdb 2018)

France is home to 13 Nobel prizes in physics, 8 in chemistry and 13 in medicine, as well as 13 Fields Medals which makes it the second leading source country of Fields Medals winners.

Entrepreneur is a French word

France is a “Startup Nation” with no fewer than 12,000 startups and the world’s largest startup incubator, Station F, which can host 1,000 startups in Paris.

Enterprise creation is particularly strong in France with 1,000-1,500 startups created every year.

France is the next big thing (John Chambers) with a buoyant tech system (La French Tech) and

France is attracting foreign VCs, welcoming more foreign startups and mobilizing a network of startup ecosystems through “La French Tech” initiative, the “French Tech Ticket” (a welcome pack for foreign entrepreneurs) of the French Tech Visa. There are more than 10,000 startups gathered under this label, including in the Nordic countries with La French Tech Nordics. 

Venture capital is a key strength for France, ranked second among the countries in our sample: venture capital investment amounted to 0.045% of GDP in 2016, more than in the UK (0.031%) and in Germany (0.025%). (tdb 2018)

In the first three quarters of 2018, France was ranked third in the sample in terms of amounts raised (United Kingdom €5.1 billion, Germany €3.1 billion, France €2.8 billion), and second for the number of transactions (United Kingdom 588, France 431, Sweden 246, Germany 216). (tdb 2018)

In 2018, France was the 2nd most represented country in the world at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, with 320 startups. In 2016, the French startup CybelAngel won the pitch 100 session at Slush in Helsinki.

France is home to several unicorns, such as Criteo or BlaBlaCar.

Easy access to a large pool of talents

Foreign talents enjoy streamlined immigration formalities, a customized residence permit & working permit scheme (up to 4 years on a renewable basis) so-called “Passeport Talent”.

Foreign talents benefit from a free on-line dedicated service operated by Business France that helps them to settle in (

Expatriates enjoy a tailor-made tax regime, applicable for 8 years, offering an income tax exemption from 30 to 50% of the global remuneration.

France offers a wide offer of private and public international schools (478 international programs in 284 schools and educational establishments).

Personal taxation will be lowered through a reduction of investment income (interest, dividends, capital gains on security) with a capped single flat rate of 30%.

Lead the battle against climate change

France was Europe’s second-largest generator of primary energy derived from renewable sources in 2016, accounting for 11.3% of the EU-28 total, the same level as Italy. The top contributor was Germany, which accounted for 18.7% of the total. (tdb 2018)

France, like Sweden, makes little use of fossil fuels. Only 10.6% of France’s electricity is produced from fossil fuels. This distinctive feature of France is due to the predominance of nuclear energy (71.5% of the total) – a reliable source of energy that gives rise to no CO2 emissions.

Green growth brings with it economic opportunity and provides jobs in green energies. According to EurObserv’ER, France was Europe’s third-largest employer in the renewable energy sector in 2016, with 143,100 jobs (0.5% of its working population).

Following the announcement of the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement (COP 21), President Emmanuel Macron announced the launching of the platform Make Our Planet Great Again, to bring together researchers, associations, entrepreneurs and NGOs looking to work to combat climate change. The application website has already received more than 250 submissions.

The “One Planet Summit” has taken place in Paris on December 2017 to celebrate the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement. In the presence of President Emmanuel Macron, Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank, and Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the UN, the aim of the summit was to step up the fight against climate change by assembling together key players in government and the financial sector.