Ambassador Encourages French-U.S. Partnership in Maryland
In a December 11 visit to two of Maryland’s main cities, François Delattre, Ambassador of France to the United States, examined bilateral ties in business and international affairs.
The Ambassador first stopped in Annapolis, where the French sailboat and powerboat manufacturer Bénéteau runs its operations in the American market.
Bénéteau President Laurent Fabre met with the Ambassador and his delegation and described the company’s presence in the U.S. "We started selling our powerboats here only two years ago, but it already accounts for 30 percent of total sales for Bénéteau," he said, with a projected growth rate of nearly one-third for 2014.
The company’s innovations include a joystick-controlled steering option, which allows the driver to move the boat laterally, a useful option when docking in a crowded marina. The company’s Air Step system channels some of the engine exhaust under the boat’s hull, creating a lift effect which cuts resistance between the boat and the water.
Bénéteau shares its Annapolis office space with the yacht maker Jeanneau, another French group which Bénéteau acquired in 1995. Both brands operate in the U.S., focusing primarily on the markets along the eastern seaboard between the mid-Atlantic region and Florida.
The company works with over 80 U.S. dealers and produces some of its vessels at a plant in Marion, S.C.
Founded in 1884, Bénéteau is a publicly traded company whose holdings include a luxury mobile home maker and European Yacht Brokerage (EYB), an aftermarket financing unit. The group operates in over 50 countries.
- Laurent Fabre, President of Bénéteau America, greets Amb. Delattre
Amb. Delattre then traveled to Baltimore, where gave a speech at the invitation of the city’s Council on Foreign Affairs. The event, called "New Opportunities in the French-American and Transatlantic Partnerships," allowed him to share his positive view of the current state of French-U.S. relations.
"French-American ties are closer than ever," he said, addressing several hundred attendees at the Baltimore World Trade Center.
Amb. Delattre cited the two countries’ active cooperation on issues of global concern such as terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as conflict in Mali, Syria, and the Central African Republic.
- Amb. Delattre joins Frank Burd, Director of Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs, following a speech at the city’s World Trade Center
He made specific reference to the close relationship between the French and American economies. "French companies support over 600,000 jobs in the U.S.," he said, adding that "the more the emerging world grows—which is a good thing—the more the transatlantic partnership is needed."