France has the fourth-largest
economy in the world, after the USA, Germany, Japan, and has an
annual per capita income of US$23,000.
France has a wide industrial and commercial base, covering everything
from agriculture to light and heavy industrial concerns, the most
advanced technology and a burgeoning service sector. It is also
Western Europe’s leading agricultural nation with over half
of the country’s land area devoted to farming. Wheat is the
most important crop, maize, sugar beet and barley are also produced
in large quantities. The country is self-sufficient in these (which
are produced in sufficient surplus for major exports) and the majority
of other common crops. The livestock industry is expanding rapidly.
France is one of the world’s leading wine producers.
Despite the widespread belief in some quarters that French agriculture
is inefficient, the sector has regularly turned in good profit margins
and a sound export performance.
French companies are prominent in many industries, particularly
steel, motor vehicles, aircraft, mechanical and electrical engineering,
chemicals, textiles, and food processing. In advanced industrial
sectors, France has one of the world’s largest nuclear power
industries, which meets nearly three-quarters of the country’s
energy requirements, and is a world leader in computing and telecommunications.
The service sector is dominated by tourism, which has long been
a major foreign currency earner, although financial services have
also grown rapidly since the early 1990s.
Recent economic policy has been characterised by a gradual relinquishing
of state holdings in ‘strategic’ industries as well
as a steady reduction in government spending. Economic growth has
been sluggish for the last 2.5 years, and is still below 1 per cent.
France suffers from a relatively high unemployment rate of 9 per
cent, which is climbing again after several years of decline.
France was a founder member of the European Community and
has benefited greatly from its participation. It was also a founder
member of the European Monetary Union and adopted
the euro upon its inception. The EU, especially Germany, Italy,
Belgium, Spain and the UK, accounts for the bulk of French trade.
Outside the European Union, the USA and Japan are its principal
Conservative clothes are generally worn at business meetings in
France. Prior appointments are expected and the use of business
cards is usual. While a knowledge of French is a distinct advantage
in business dealings, it is considered impolite to start a conversation
in French and then have to revert to English. Business meetings
tend to be formal and business decisions are taken only after lengthy
discussion, with many facts and figures to back up sales presentations.
Business entertaining is usually in restaurants. Avoid the holiday
period of mid July to mid September for business visits.
Generally Monday-Friday 0900 hrs -1200 hrs, 1400 hrs -1800 hrs.
The following organisations can offer advice:
de Commerce et d’Industrie de Paris, 27 Avenue de
Friedland, 75382 Paris, Cedex 08 (telephone number: (1) 5565 5565,
fax number: (1) 5565 7668, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Centre de Renseignements des Douanes,
84 rue d’Hauteville, 75498 Paris (telephone number: (0825)
308 263, fax number: (1) 5324 6830, e-mail: email@example.com
Assemblée des Chambres Francaises de
Commerce et d’Industrie, 45 Avenue d’iena,
75116 Paris, Cedex 16 (telephone number: (1) 4069 3700; fax number:
(1) 4720 6128, e-mail: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org).
Paris is the world’s leading conference city, with the total
amount of seating available of over 100,000 seats, exceeding that
of any rival city. Also in demand are the Riviera towns of
Nice and Cannes, the Acropolis
Centre in Nice being the largest single venue in Europe,
other centres are Lyon, Strasbourg
The Business Travel
Club (CFTAR) is a government-sponsored association of cities,
departments, convention centres, hotels and other organisations
interested in providing meeting facilities and incentives with over
80 members. Enquiries should be made through the French
Government Tourist Office, which in several cities has
a special department for business travel, these include London,
Frankfurt/M, Düsseldorf, Milan, Madrid and Chicago. The following
organisation can offer advice: Maison de la France,
Conference and Incentive Department, 178 Piccadilly, London W1J
9AL (telephone number: (020) 7399 3521, fax number: (020) 7493 6594,