French Foreign Ministry to play active role in attracting investment [fr]
Press briefing by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman (excerpts)
Paris, 19 February 2014
THE SPOKESMAN – The President yesterday chaired the Strategic Investment Attractiveness Council. This is an important stage in strengthening our country’s attractiveness.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius took part in the meeting and confirmed that the Foreign Ministry is continuing to play an active role in supporting the economic recovery and attracting investment.
Several new decisions will be implemented:
Promoting our economic attractiveness will now be the responsibility of a new body, created from a merger between the French International Investment Agency (AFII) and Ubifrance: France International Entrepreneurs will be placed under the joint supervision of the Foreign Ministry and the Economy and Finance Ministry. This reform will enable us to rationalize the work of the two agencies, which have significant resources (the AFII has 150 staff and 22 offices in 18 countries, and Ubifrance has 1,400 staff and 81 offices in 65 countries), and to better adapt the services provided to our companies’ needs. The Foreign Ministry’s joint supervision will also enable us, in line with M. Laurent Fabius’s commitment to economic diplomacy, to step up fruitful cooperation between the new structure and our diplomatic and consular network abroad.
A “talent passport” will also be created. This mechanism will enable us to offer a four-year residence permit to qualified young graduates, creators, investors, managing agents and highly-qualified workers. It will also facilitate all their administrative procedures in France.
Concurrently, the Foreign Ministy will continue, in liaison with the Interior Ministry, to implement a visa policy supporting all those who can contribute to our recovery:
Regarding multi-entry, short-stay visas, the diplomatic and consular network received instructions in 2013 to further improve the issuance rate for visas and extend their validity period to five years, as the President said yesterday, for those who come to our country regularly (businessmen, investors, academics, scientists, artists, and tourists who travel to France a great deal). These visas enable their holders to enter and leave the Schengen Area without being forced to make a new request on each visit, for one 90-day stay in the Schengen Area in every six-month period.
This is an important administrative simplification measure.
The procedure will also be speeded up, with issuance periods reduced, partnerships established (with companies, travel agencies and chambers of commerce) and procedures made simpler for the leading French export companies to invite their foreign partners to France. Measures will be taken to offer the partners of the 4,000 approved French export companies special access conditions to visa services and greatly reduced issuance periods.
In China, for example, all [consular] posts now process short-stay visas in 48 hours, with issuance rates increasing by more than 20% in 2013. This measure will be extended to other priority countries this year.
The procedure will also be simplified for foreign nationals who come to work in France for periods of under three months: the provisional work permit – obtaining which could delay the issuance of a visa – will be replaced by a system of prior declaration.
Foreign students will enjoy significant facilitation measures. They will each receive a residence permit whose duration will correspond to that of their study period, which will save them going through annual procedures. There will be fewer procedures for outstanding master’s students from the autumn 2014 term onwards. Graduate students who set up businesses will be able to extend their residence permits by a year. An additional year will also be granted to second-year master’s students, to enable them to find jobs corresponding to their university courses and facilitate procedures for them with a view to changing their status.
Q. – Regarding students, is there an age limit?
THE SPOKESMAN – What matters above all is the degree courses followed. The aim is to make it easier for those students to come to France and to make our higher education attractive.
The aim of the measures announced yesterday is to facilitate exchanges with company directors and students, and also to make it easier for tourists to stay in France.
Q. – Does this system also apply to artists?
THE SPOKESMAN – Yes. It’s up to each consulate to examine each individual case and assess the quality of the applicant. (…)