Five of France’s key advantages in a globalized world

Market size and location

With a GDP of US$2,463 billion at current prices, France was the world’s sixth largest economy in 2016 after the United States, China, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom. 

France’s location, combined with first-class multimodal transport infrastructure, makes it an ideal springboard to other countries, continents and world regions, throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

France also boasts a buoyant demographic profile, and is the leading country in Europe by fertility rate, verging on two live births per woman.    Find out more:

Highly qualified, productive workforce

With an outlay on education equivalent to more than 5% of GDP, France is one of the countries that invests the most in its education system.

Labor productivity is high in France on both a per-employee and hourly basis: in 2016, France was ranked seventh in the world for hourly labor productivity.

France also has a very well qualified workforce: 44.7% of 25- to 34-year-olds hold a tertiary qualification, as do 33.5% of 25- to 64-year-olds.

France is ranked first in the FT Masters in Management, with three Parisian institutions in the top 10 (HEC, ESSEC, and ESCP Europe).

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A land of innovation

France is ranked sixth in the world for gross domestic expenditure on research and development, with US$61 billion, after the United States, China, Japan, Germany and South Korea. Four  sectors account for more than half of all business enterprise R&D expenditure in France: the automotive industry; aerospace; the pharmaceutical industry; scientific/technical activities and IT/computer services. Business enterprise R&D intensity increased 14% from 2007 to a new high in 2015.

With more than 14 R&D personnel per thousand labor force in 2014, including nine researchers, France was ranked fourth among the 14 countries compared in the France Attractiveness Scoreboard after Finland, Sweden and Austria. In 2015, 50% of jobs in the French economy (economically active 25- to 64-year-olds) required advanced qualifications (persons employed in science and technology and/or tertiary education graduates).

Moreover, the French tax system offers the most generous R&D tax treatment in the world, thanks to France’s research tax credit. The number of private-sector researchers rose 30% between 2007 and 2014, as 37,000 high value-added jobs were created.

With 94 companies in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA, France outstripped all its European counterparts as the leading country for fast-growing technology companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Two French firms – Horizontal Software and Chauffeur-privé – made the top 10 in the standings. France is also the third leading country in the Top 100 Global Innovators, with 10 French entities among the 100 most innovative organizations in the world. They include three research centers (CNRS, CEA, IFP Energies Nouvelles) and seven companies (Alstom, Arkema, Safran, Saint-Gobain, Thales, Total and Valeo).  Find out more:

A land of enterprise

France is making life simpler for entrepreneurs. In 2016, only 3.5 days were needed to found a company in France, compared with 4.5 in the United Kingdom and 10.5 in Germany.

Enterprise creation is buoyant in France: there was a net increase of more than 230,000 active enterprises in 2014, with a 7.2% rise that was one of the largest increases in the European Union, while in the manufacturing sector, net enterprise creation was 6.8%. Moreover, the enterprise start-up rate in France in 2014 was 9.9% across the economy as a whole, and 8.3% in the manufacturing sector.

In 2015, Paris outpaced all other European cities for raising seed capital. With nearly €2 billion raised in 2015, France remained second in the European venture capital market by transaction numbers, after the United Kingdom.

One of France’s key strengths lies in the low business costs it offers foreign companies. According to KPMG’s Competitive Alternatives 2016 survey, total business operating costs were 9.5% lower in France than in the United States.

The United Nations ranks France 10th in the world and sixth in Europe for e-government. (United Nations E-Government Survey, 2016)

First-class infrastructure

France’s high-quality transport and communication infrastructure is widely acclaimed by foreign investors. France has first-class airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle is Europe’s largest airport for cargo and second largest for passengers after London Heathrow. France also boasts very attractive energy access, with a cost-effective and reliable electrical grid – electricity rates among the most competitive in Europe – and an excellent broadband penetration rate (ranked second in Europe among the countries compared in our sample).


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Kits showcasing the French economy, French talent, and France’s sectors of excellence

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