STMicroelectronics headquarters in Paris, October 9, 2017 (AFP / ERIC PIERMONT)
President Emmanuel Macron welcomed 180 foreign presidents at Versailles on Monday for the fifth “Choose France” summit, with the main announcement of a €5.7 billion investment in a new semiconductor plant near Grenoble.
Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire commented on Twitter: “This is the largest industrial investment in recent decades, with the exception of nuclear power, and a huge step for our industrial sovereignty: 1,000 jobs are at stake.”
Les projets d’investissements industriels présentés lundi après-midi à Versailles (6,7 milliards d’euros d’investissements, “plus de 4.000 emplois créés”), tombent à point nommé pour le gouvernement d’investissements, “plus de 4.000 emplois créés” Purchasing power.
The future semiconductor plant, located in Krolles near Grenoble, will benefit from “significant financial support from the French state,” the Franco-Italian group STMicroelectronics and American GlobalFoundries have identified.
It is part of the “Chip Act”, the European Union’s program to regain a place alongside Asia and America in global semiconductor production, after the Covid-19 crisis.
The first productions should be launched from the end of 2023, with an increase until 2025-2026, according to the Elysee. The two companies said about 58% of the production will be for GlobalFoundries, and the rest for STMicroelectronics.
French President Emmanuel Macron during a video conference at the Elysee Palace, Paris, for the opening of the former “Choose France” summit, January 25, 2021 (POOL / Ludovic MARIN)
Mr Macron will travel there on Tuesday to present this plant project, which will eventually be “the largest French chip production site and one of the largest in Europe”.
These statements come in a tense atmosphere, after Le Monde newspaper revealed, on Sunday evening, the links that brought together Emmanuel Macron, then Minister of Economy (2014-2016), and Uber. Based on various testimonies and documents, these “Uber files” concluded that there was a secret “deal”, aimed at helping the platform solidify its positions in France, which was vehemently denounced by elected officials from the left.
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For the Elysee, the standard participation of foreign presidents in “Choose France” – they were 120 to 130 in previous editions – shows “a very strong interest from foreign presidents, after the president’s re-election”.
Despite the government’s loss of an absolute majority, “there is no concern among senior officials” about the continuation of a program favorable to industrial investment in France, assures the head of state’s entourage.
During the luncheon marking the start of the summit, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire also referred to the assurance to the invited chiefs that over the next five years, executives would continue to “reduce production taxes, to improve the skills of the workforce and to reduce administrative procedures for the installation of new industrial sites”, according to the text of his letter he sent to Agence France-Presse.
And in Europe’s inflationary climate, he also praised France’s “cheap and low-carbon” electricity, as well as France’s €30 billion plan, which provides “opportunities for foreign investors”.
Leaders of Coca-Cola, Disney, Siemens, US banks Citi, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, Chinese conglomerate Fosun or Australian financial services group Macquarie will find themselves under Versailles gold.
Macron will also meet with “major sovereign wealth funds”, such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Korea, as well as Canadian funds.
FedEx will create 1,000 permanent jobs in Roissy, near Paris (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/MARIO TAMA)
Among other projects announced as part of “Choose France,” express parcel specialist FedEx will create 1,000 permanent jobs in Roissy (Val d’Oise), consultancy Accenture 500 in Brittany and Vietnam’s Vinfast (cars) 350 to 400 in “showrooms.” And workshops, according to the Elysee.
British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will invest in clinical trials, US company Collins Aerospace (avionics and information systems – Raytheon Group) will invest in research and development and Germany’s Vorwerk will acquire a second Thermomix plant in Eure-et-Loir.
The Dutch temporary working group Randstad will also hire 7,000 employees on temporary permanent contracts by the end of 2022.
France prides itself on being the most attractive country in Europe for foreign investors in terms of the number of projects – 1,222 in 2021 – and its size on the other hand being smaller overall, as measured by EY.
Nearly 80 investment projects, representing 12 billion euros and 21,000 jobs, have been announced as part of the “Choose France” summits since 2018: 25 have been completed, 50 are under way, and five have been abandoned or postponed.