Despite the global slowdown and the movement of “yellow vests”, the number of foreign investment projects is up slightly in France over the first ten months of 2019, according to a study made by Ipsos for “The states of the France “. The difficulties of the German and Italian economies as well as Brexit favor France.

The Toyota plant in Onnaing, near Valenciennes.  For 84% of the bosses of foreign companies established in France surveyed by Ipsos, France is an attractive country.

The “yellow vests” and social movements that have shaken France for a year do not affect the attractiveness of the country, at least for the moment. This is what emerges from a study made by Ipsos for “The States of France” presented this Thursday. Among the 200 executives of foreign companies established in France surveyed, 84% consider the country attractive. They support the government’s reforms and call, unsurprisingly, to go further in reducing the cost of labor.

According to another study by the firm EY, published last June, the number of foreign investment projects in France has exceeded those initiated in Germany, France taking second place in Europe, behind the United Kingdom. “We have a chance to finish on the first step of the podium before the end of the five-year term in terms of attractiveness. We can be the country in Europe that will attract the most foreign investment by 2022, ahead of Germany and the United Kingdom ”, estimates the Managing Director of Business France, Christophe Lecourtier.

Lower competition

The economic slowdown and trade tensions have prompted companies to be cautious and foreign investment has declined since the start of the year on the Old Continent. But according to Christophe Lecourtier, “The number of foreign investment projects is up slightly in France over the first ten months of 2019”. I have to say that “Competition has weakened”, as Pascal Cagni, President of Business France recognizes.

The concept of attractiveness being relative, we must compare France to its big neighbors. It is clear that the German economic model, based on industry and exports, is questioned, that Brexit is affecting the economic outlook for the United Kingdom and that activity is slipping in Italy.

The “yellow vests” crisis hit the parent companies

However, all is not for the best in the best of all possible worlds. In the Ipsos study, for 39% of managers, the “yellow vests” crisis led their parent company to question their development projects in France. The roundabout revolt has also had an effect on France’s image with world headquarters: for 44% of respondents, it has deteriorated over the past year. It is true that, each Western country in its own way, knows a questioning of the elites and their management of the economy. In this sense, the “yellow vests” are perhaps no more worrying, for international investors, than Donald Trump.

Social movements on the radar

Are foreign groups apprehending the month of December, the unions having filed an indefinite strike notice to oppose the pension reform? For Denis Zervudacki, boss of the DZA cabinet, not really. “ The major reforms for attractiveness have already been made. That of pensions is not the mother of all reforms ”, explains the organizer of the “States of France”, an event which brings together foreign companies established in France this Thursday in Paris.

But not everyone agrees. According to Olivier Marchal, president of the consultancy firm Bain & Company in France, “If the protest extends to the private sector after December 5, then the red flag will have to be brought out for attractiveness”. We are not there yet, but the fact that, in general, the leaders insist on “inclusive growth” and the need to take better account of inequalities proves that the upheavals of Western societies, and not only French ones, are taken seriously.