According to Fevad, the Federation of e-commerce and distance selling, France is the sixth biggest market in the world for e-commerce and represents 43 billion dollars and 13.4% of retail operations in 2021 (9.8% in 2019). More than 40 million French people have made purchases online, taking the value of the e-commerce market to around 112 billion euros in 2020 (compared to 57 billion in 2014). Online shopping is an area of the market undergoing continuous growth. The number of online shoppers has increased to around 800,000 in one year. However, that’s not the only advantage of the land of the baguette.

In 2019, France was Europe’s leading host country for foreign investment (whether in terms of the attraction of R&D centres, labour costs or industrial investment). And although , the world has had to struggle with all kinds of problems since COVID-19 first reared its ugly head, France nevertheless remains an attractive country in which to do business.

In this article, find out why it is advantageous to set up in business and to invest in France, in spite of the pandemic.

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A few good reasons to invest in France

High international appeal

In Europe, France is the leading host nation for businesses and includes around 28,000 foreign subsidiaries. Why? Well, it’s one of the countries where it’s easiest to set up a company.

We have noticed great interest in France from foreign investors in recent years. Several organisations are behind this major comeback for the French nation. Firstly, French Tech which extends well beyond our borders, starting with the Las Vegas CES (France was the second most represented nation, with around 300 startups).

Then, the recent creation of the largest startup incubator in the world, Station F, founded by Xavier Niel and headed by Roxanne Varza, which also creates a very positive and innovative image of France.

Finally, the background work carried out by Business France (an entity created by the partnership between Ubifrance and the French Agency for International Investment) who, through communications campaigns, white papers and videos, consistently strives to show off France’s assets to the whole world.

A strategic geographical position

With a population of nearly 67 million people, France is privileged to offer an ideal geographical location within Europe, making it a very interesting prospect for those wanting to set up a business. France also has many other advantages that make it attractive:

  • Best road network in Europe
  • Best airport for business travel in Europe (Paris-Le Bourget)
  • Best air freight hub in Europe (Paris-Charles de Gaulle)
  • A highly efficient rail network ranked third in Europe
  • Two ports among the top ten in Europe (Marseille and Le Havre)

As you can see, the country has a strategic position right at the centre of the European market. A fact which has not escaped the notice of companies and investors looking to establish themselves in France.

A highly qualified and productive workforce

Indeed, France has a highly qualified workforce. 86% of heads of foreign companies established in France believe that the training and qualifications of French staff make them very attractive.

In addition, France has the fifth most powerful economy in the world (the USA being in the lead, followed by China, Japan and Germany).

How does COVID-19 affect all this?

Advantages are all too often accompanied by disadvantages. As we said before, France had its moment of glory in 2019 as the leading European country in terms of welcoming foreign investors. However, the emergence of COVID-19 turned everything on its head.

Fall in foreign investment

France has seen a decline in foreign investment due to the pandemic. In fact, foreign investment in France decreased by 17% in 2020 compared to 2019. Although there was less investment, no fewer than 30,000 new jobs were created and around 5,000 others retained. According to the Business France agency, these figures put 2020 in second place among the best of the last ten years in terms of numbers of jobs (2019 taking pole position). And a lot of other work has been going on behind the scenes…

Video conferences between government ministers and heads of multinationals have been organised to put France in the spotlight and promote its qualities. Many companies from agri-food groups, laboratories and online selling sites have been meeting with public bodies to discuss plans to be implemented.


Will we ever get back to normal?

Since 9 June, French people have been gradually enjoying their new-found freedom as restrictions have gradually been lifted : softening of restrictions in shops, museums, cinemas and sports facilities, reopening of café terraces and restaurants, curfew moved to 11 pm… Everything seems to indicate that we are heading in the right direction and that, before long, we will get back to a more pleasant way of life. Setting up in business in France can be very advantageous. So, go for it!


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