Fedex-AFII (Invest in France Agency)
FedEx Vice-President Richard Smith,
Invest in France Agency Director Philippe Yvergniaux,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It’s a great pleasure to welcome you all this evening at this magnificent location overlooking one of the most iconic landmarks of this country, courtesy of our friends at FEDEX.
I’d like to start by warmly thanking Richard Smith and FEDEX, not only for hosting tonight’s party, but also for the outstanding contribution your company continues to make to France’s economic growth and to the strengthening of ties between our two countries.
I would also like to thank my colleague Philippe Yvergniaux, who does a superb job with his team at the head of Invest in France Agency in the United States.
I had the privilege of meeting a few times the founder of FedEx Fred Smith, a very impressive man and leader.
And when Fred Smith inaugurated a new FEDEX hub at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport on September 6th, 1999, the event marked the conclusion of a major and careful strategic planning process, which resulted in him choosing the Paris region for FedEx’s European hub.
I believe that Paris’s strategic position in Western Europe, the quality of our infrastructure and our workforce, matched with a warm welcome from the French authorities, played a key role in this decision. The same reasons explain that France is today the third-leading destination worldwide for direct foreign investment.
12 years later, FEDEX employs 3500 persons in France, and helps ship –or rather fly - French products all over the world in less than 24 hours.
This is why the French government and its foreign investment arm - the Invest in France Agency - were all the more happy to support your initiative for an Aerotropolis Europe hub.
This hub, alongside its Memphis and Guangjou sisters, is not just a major development opportunity for the Paris region, but also for all the companies choosing to locate there now and in the future.
This is also why the Invest in France Agency and the French Embassy are so pleased to partner with FedEx tonight to welcome French and American participants to the 2011 BIO International Convention.
Life Sciences are a key sector of the French economy. The Institut Pasteur or Institut Curie, among others, exemplifies the world class excellence of French life sciences, alongside industrial leaders like Sanofi, Bio-Mérieux, and Pierre Fabre. Our seven “pôles de compétitivité” or innovation clusters dedicated to life sciences also serve as renowned ambassadors of French R&D in oncology, nutrition, or genomics to name just a few.
Little known, on the other hand, is the fact that many American companies are part of this thriving business in France: Abbott, Eli Lilly, Merck, Pfizer, Amgen, Medtronic and 220 other large and small U.S. and Canadian companies develop new products, conduct clinical trials, produce drugs and medical devices, and take advantage of all assets that France offers to the biopharma and medtech industries.
Many of them do this through partnerships and joint ventures with French companies.
In this respect France has established the highest R and D tax credit in the industrialized world and my country is investing massively on Research, and bio-tech in particular.
So this event, kindly sponsored by FEDEX, as well as the Fast Track seminar organized by UBIFRANCE tomorrow at the St Regis hotel, are two great opportunities for you, French and American companies, Innovation Clusters, Regional Development Agencies, to network, make new contacts, find new ideas, new partners, and hopefully new friendships.
In this respect the overall context cannot be more favorable as French-American relations, and this is good news, have never been closer (…).
Let me conclude on this positive note, please enjoy the evening and my warmest thanks again to Richard Smith and to each and everyone of you for joining us tonight./.