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Economic Dialogue with France Aims to Further Expand Trade and Investment

Thursday, February 13, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The White House announced Feb. 11 an agreement to establish a U.S.-France Economic-Commercial Dialogue that aims to enhance bilateral cooperation and expand trade and investment. Potential items for discussion and cooperation under this dialogue, which will likely hold its first meeting in May or June, include development and support of small and medium-sized businesses; encouragement of direct investment in both directions; strategies to promote advanced manufacturing, innovation and entrepreneurship; workforce training; promotion of green products and energy technologies; market access issues; and the potential benefits of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

France has been somewhat skeptical of the TTIP since the U.S. and the European Union announced the launch of negotiations in 2013. During a visit to Washington, D.C., this week French President Francois Hollande acknowledged differences between the U.S. and the EU in key areas as well as French concerns about issues such as farm goods and cultural sensitivities. However, he asserted that “we really want to reach this agreement” because it will contribute to economic growth by “developing world trade in a balanced manner.” Hollande signaled that France is particularly interested in removing non-tariff barriers and ensuring that “the same opportunities [are] offered to all companies so that they can make proposals and tender for markets.”

A White House fact sheet states that the U.S. and France already have a substantial trade and investment relationship. At the end of 2012 the total stock of French foreign direct investment in the U.S. stood at $222 billion while U.S. FDI in France totaled $83 billion. U.S. affiliates of French firms employed approximately 525,000 Americans in 2011, while more than 1,240 affiliates of U.S. firms were present in France in 2012, supporting an estimated 440,000 jobs.

France was the United States’ eighth largest goods trading partner in 2013, with U.S. goods exports to France valued at $32 billion and imports from France totaling $45 billion. Almost 25% of bilateral goods trade is in the aerospace sector. U.S. services exports to France reached $15.1 billion in the first nine months of 2013, compared to $11.7 billion in services imports during the same period.

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