Convinced that if France is to reconcile fiscal consolidation and growth it is essential, inter alia, for French companies to improve their position on the international markets, and also that major contracts are a particularly effective way of breaking into these markets, Christine Lagarde, Minister for the Economy, Industry and Employment, and Anne-Marie Idrac, Minister of State responsible for Foreign Trade, are launching an initiative to bolster the competitiveness of the support services for major export contracts.
On 22 September at the Ministry for the Economy, Industry and Employment, the two ministers chaired a working seminar bringing together leaders of the biggest companies actively engaged in international infrastructure projects (transport, urban services, energy and aerospace) and industrial plant and machinery, with a view to putting forward proposals for adapting the government support services for major export contracts. The aim is to improve the services, with due regard for international competition rules, in order to adapt them to the emergence of new competitors in the export markets and rapid development of the international partnership strategies pursued by our companies.
In agreement with President Sarkozy and the Prime Minister, steps will be taken to strengthen the dialogue between the State and the major companies and enhance their strategic coordination prior to the negotiation of major international contracts. In this context, the Interministerial Commission responsible for supporting companies’ efforts to win international contracts (Commission interministérielle d’appui aux contrats internationaux (CIACI)), created in 2008, will be tasked with selecting the most strategic major contracts for the French economy and French jobs. These contracts will be given stronger public support, consisting in particular of a more flexible export credit policy, which will take account of their consequences for employment and the French economy. The objective is to increase the chances of French companies winning these contracts so as to maintain and develop plants and facilities established in France. Concurrently, controls over the French, foreign and local contributions will be strengthened.
The ministers also announced that France will make every effort to strengthen the enforcement of the conditions of international competition in terms of financing and standards, while at the same time more effectively promoting French and other European suppliers,
characterized by their technological excellence and commitment to the highest international standards of social and environmental norms and anti-corruption measures. This will be done by reorienting our financial and political support and launching bilateral and international negotiations on compliance with the rules on international financing and social and environmental standards. Accordingly, greater government support will be given to ensuring French companies’ societal and environmental responsibility through the financing of social and environmental audits of major international projects in order to take greater account of the relevant impacts and thus enhance the value of French bids.
Finally, to restore a level financial playing field, the ministers have announced the establishment, on an experimental basis, of a matching public fund financed by budget appropriations allocated to export credits. This fund will enable France, on some major strategic infrastructure projects, to make financial bids comparable with those of our American, European and Asian competitors.
Taken as a whole, these measures will improve support for French exporters and the French economy in general, enabling them to take greater advantage of the opportunities presented by the growth observed in the emerging countries./.