The 22nd edition of the AmCham-Bain Barometer has revealed an unprecedented rise in the morale of American investors regarding France. A total 74% of them anticipate a positive change in the business environment in France in the next two to three years. This represents an increase of 35 percentage points compared with 2020.
This renewed optimism is thanks to the resilience of the French economic model and the recovery of the economy, which is being supported by the “Relaunch France” plan implemented by the government and approved by 53% of investors. While 59% of American businesses believe they have already returned to their 2019 level of activity, the Covid-19 crisis does not seem to have had a major impact on investment plans. Indeed, 54% of investors believe that the crisis will have no impact on their investments in France in the medium term and nearly a quarter even envisage the crisis leading to a positive or very positive effect on investments.
This enthusiasm can also be seen in the prospects for creation of employment: more than half of all investors expect to see an increase in the size of their workforce (up 24 percentage points on 2020). Furthermore, the Net Promoter Score (NPS – calculated as the difference between the share of respondents recommending France and the share not recommending it) of France as an investment destination, which is up 19 percentage points compared with last year, has reached its highest level in 14 years and reflects just how attractive France is to American talent.
Thanks to Brexit, France stands out as the preferred European destination for North American parent companies, with 64% of respondents viewing the country favorably or even very favorably. Some 57% consider the business support measures introduced by the French state to be more or even much more competitive than those of other European countries. Moreover, 71% of people also consider that the health pass has enabled a faster resumption of activity compared with that in other neighboring countries.
The resilience of the French model is also explained by an ability to innovate and a capacity for enterprise, already praised by investors through previous editions of the AmCham-Bain Barometer. Thus, 81% of respondents have a positive or very positive perception of the innovation ecosystem in France, and more than half say they collaborate with French startups that make up the country’s entrepreneurial fabric. The high level of training and research in France also helps to attract American businesses that recognize and appreciate the quality of the French workforce.
In the eyes of American investors, France’s major key strengths, which have been known for many years, are very clear: the cultural environment (80% of respondents consider this to be France’s strong point, compared with other European countries), its location (79%), quality of life (75%), quality of infrastructure (58%), its highly skilled workforce (58%) and capacity for innovation and research (51%).
The ecological transition is emerging as another factor in the economic recovery. At a time when the French government is passing the “Climate and Resilience” Act and when Europe is rolling out the various initiatives of its “Green Deal”, the majority of respondents believe that these measures will have a positive impact on investment in France.
On the other hand, the “whatever it takes” attitude weighs heavily on public debt today, which worries a majority of investors (62%), even if this figure is down from last year.
Like the Barometers of previous years, the cost and complexity of dismissals, the overall cost of labor, administrative procedures and taxation are still singled out as being chronic obstacles to investment. AmCham recommends accelerating digitalization to overcome these structural defects.