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Economic diplomacy

Published on January 31, 2014
Interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Europe 1

Paris, January 30, 2014

Q. – In your travels around the world, you meet a lot of foreign investors. Why do 77% of them turn their backs on France?

THE MINISTER – It’s a bad result, we must be frank, and clearly, because – by definition – I spend my time abroad, it’s something which I was seeing and has today been confirmed. Why? I think there are three major reasons. The first reason is our businesses’ lack of competitiveness; the second reason is France’s lack of attractiveness; and the third reason is that we haven’t made enough savings. That shows exactly what direction we must take. We must increase our businesses’ competitiveness, so this raises the problem of taxes, etc.

Q. – Taxation…

THE MINISTER – Of course, we need to be more attractive, and we must also make savings. That takes us back to the responsibility pact that has been proposed. So it’s absolutely crystal clear.

Q. – You’re saying you must reduce public spending without compensating for it through tax increases?

THE MINISTER – Of course, because otherwise you get nothing at all.

Q. – So it’s a difficult exercise to carry out?

THE MINISTER – Yes: difficult and necessary. François Hollande spoke extremely clearly the other day at his press conference; now we must act.

Q. – With the responsibility pact things are going a little better, you say, but the people you’ve seen are waiting for action. To prevent the failure of this pact – which is decisive for the country and for François Hollande’s five-year term – what will your response to this urgent matter be?

THE MINISTER – Yesterday I met Mr Gattaz [President of French employers’ organization], who had come to see me precisely to talk about economic diplomacy, and I think things are now quite clear-cut.
On the one hand, the government, the state is committing itself to easing burdens, and on the other, companies are going to make a special effort on employment. That’s not the only way we can get over this. Employment requires growth. You must seek growth wherever it is. It’s abroad especially. (…)./.

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