On the day that Theresa May’s Brexit plans were dealt a blow France stepped up its campaign to woo businesses fleeing Brexit Britain.
The latest move by Paris is a one stop shop to provide firms everything they and their staff need to relocate across the Channel.
Since the shock June 23rd EU referendum in the UK result France has been open about its attempts to lure businesses away from Britain.
The latest initiative hardly had the catchiest title: “Choose Paris Region – Welcome to Greater Paris” but it was clear what France is trying to do.
It was unveiled by Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday and is essentially the creation of a one stop shop aimed at providing businesses with everything they need if they wish to flee the UK and head to Europe.
It will be located at 11 Rue Cambrai in the 19th arrondissement of the city and will essentially help businesses and staff overcome the administrative hurdles of resettling in France.
(Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, President of Ile -de-France Valérie Pécresse and PM Manuel Valls. AFP)
Whether it’s questions around payroll taxes, human resources, offices or even where to enroll children in school and how to get a visa, six dedicated staff will be assigned to guide firms through the tricky process of moving.
It is designed for finance companies as well as new start-ups.
The government is eager to counter the reputation abroad that red tape and high taxes means France is not a good place for business.
“France is changing,” Valls told a press conference in Paris on Thursday. “I’m convinced we are moving in the right direction.”
Choose Paris Region : tous ensemble pour faire venir les entreprises étrangères et faire réussir la France, son économie, ses emplois. pic.twitter.com/dd2LjdWNxG
— Manuel Valls (@manuelvalls) November 3, 2016
The PM repeated a promise made in July to extend France’s special tax regime for foreigners to eight years after their arrival from five.
Ross McInnes a native Australian and naturalized Frenchman who will be the ambassador of the new scheme said companies looking to leave Britain will find Paris is an attractive proposition.
“Anyone who’s worked in France for the last few years knows to go beyond some of the cliches and look at hard facts, hard figures,” he told Reuters.
“This is a business friendly country,” he said, before telling journalists “When was the last time you booked a weekend in Frankfurt?”
Other incentives already announced by France include a move to lower corporate taxes, cut red tape and allow documents to be in English rather than French.
And the Paris regional authority believes there are rich pickings to be had from Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
It estimates around 30,000 financial-sector positions will be up for grabs when the UK leaves the EU and with 30,000 potential posts to be won from other British industries.
“Brexit is profoundly regrettable,” said Paris regional chief Valerie Pecresse. “But we cannot be passive or naive.”
Jérôme Chartier who is in charge of the economy for the Paris regional authority does not believe the City Of London will disappear but told 20 minutes that “companies that do business in the European market will have to locate themselves within the EU or at least move some of their units.”
But many economists suggest France is still unlikely to be the chief beneficiary with countries like Ireland and Luxembourg, where taxes are lower and the labour market more flexible, far more likely to benefit.
A recent study by the World Bank ranked France below the likes of Georgia, Macedonia and Latvia for ease of doing business.