Annual Gala of the Association Women In International Trade
Embassy of France, December 5, 2012
Dear Phyllis Derrick, WIIT President,
Dear Former WIIT Presidents,
Nicole Bivens Collinson,
Susan Schmidt and Barbara Wanner,
It’s a great pleasure for our Deputy Economic Counselor Emmanuelle Ivanov-Durand and for me to welcome you tonight to the French Embassy, as we pay tribute to the work of the Association of Women In International Trade. The WIIT is a remarkable network of talented professionals and outstanding individuals and a long-time friend and partner of France.
So I’d like to thank each and everyone of you for being here and for supporting this very important organization. May I also warmly congratulate you on your 25th anniversary.
As one of the premier non-partisan professional organizations here in Washington for individuals and particularly women, your multiple and worldwide activities have paved the way for a new understanding of the role of women in international trade exchanges and discussions.
You are committed to a good cause, and as you know, France and the European Union also are strongly committed to an open, fair and balanced trade agenda. We strongly believe in the virtues of trade to help our economies grow stronger and support highly skilled jobs for the 21st century. That is what the EU single market is all about.
The economic crises we’ve gone through have proven that we must remain committed to open trade and that we must avoid protectionist measures. France and the EU fight every day to make sure that our major trading partners’ markets stay open. In that battle, we know that we can count on strong American support .
It should come as no surprise that we are working hand in hand as the Transatlantic economy is the world’s largest and wealthiest market, accounting for over half of world GDP in terms of value and
41 % in terms of purchasing power.
And France is uniquely and strategically positioned as a gateway to the EU, the world’s single largest market. Here you recognize the traditional and well-known French modesty…
In this respect we are on the verge of a historical move that could create immense economic opportunities.
In November 2011, President Obama and President Barroso, the President of the European Commission, launched a High Level Working Group on Growth and Jobs, to study the feasibility of a stronger, more integrated economic partnership between the EU and the United States.
A preliminary report was released at the end of June laying down areas of interest in terms of increasing market access and strengthening regulatory convergence, creating a 21st century economic partnership.
Some work needs to be done before we can decide whether the EU and the U.S. should enter into such a new partnership, but there is a positive spirit on both sides of the Atlantic and again the transatlantic economic relationship is the anchor of the global economy, in terms of GDP and trade and even more so in terms of innovation. And in times of
uncertainty, that anchor is more important than ever.
Against this backdrop I have good news tonight: French-American relations have never been stronger than they are today, as illustrated by
President Hollande’s very successful visit to Washington last May, literally three days after his inauguration.
Our bilateral relationship is particularly strong in terms of job creation : France currently supports more than 550,000 jobs in the United States, comparable to the number of jobs created in France by American companies.
The United States is the leading destination of French Foreign Direct Investment outside the EU. In 2011, our FDI stock in the US accounted for almost $200 billion, almost the double of US Foreign Direct Investment in France. We stand currently as the 7th-largest Foreign Direct Investor in the US. Our companies represent almost 10% of foreign companies here.
The U.S. is also France’s largest trading partner outside the EU. In 2011, France exported 23 billion euros’ worth of goods to the United States and imported 28 billion euros’ worth.
Our overall foreign trade deficit is quite large, that’s why President François Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault set an ambitious goal to achieve a foreign trade balance by 2017 (with the exception of energy). And our Foreign Trade Minister Nicole Bricq has crafted a broad export strategy to achieve this goal.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let us never forget that the transatlantic partnership, and French-American friendship in particular, is based upon our common interests but is also deeply rooted in our shared values. That is what makes our relationship truly unique.
And these values remain today more than ever our best guide, our best compass, in confronting, together, the challenges we face.
So my warmest thanks again to all of you./.