After cutting corporate taxes, France gets $22b in pledges from foreign investors like Pfizer, Amazon

PARIS – France won a record €15 billion (S$21.9 billion) in foreign investment pledges on May 13, allowing President Emmanuel Macron to bask in the limelight with global CEOs, and forget about strained public finances and weak polls for a while.

The bumper crop of pledges, in sectors ranging from artificial intelligence to pharmaceuticals to energy, stood Mr Macron in good stead as he hosted business leaders for the annual “Choose France” summit at Versailles Palace.

The 2024 figure is up from €13 billion announced in 2023.

The French presidency said the investments included 56 different business projects and could lead to the creation of 10,000 jobs.

Microsoft said it would invest €4 billion in France. Over the weekend, France said Amazon would announce a €1.2 billion investment at the event.

Microsoft president Brad Smith said that the investment reflected France’s commitment to a low-carbon energy programme and Mr Macron’s business reforms.

“Sometimes when we turn on the television we get the impression that nothing’s going well in France. I don’t think it’s true,” Mr Macron said alongside Mr Smith at an event unveiling the Microsoft investment.

“There’s a lot that’s working, and we don’t pay enough attention to our considerable advantages.” Mr Macron’s administration has taken flak from opposition parties over public finances after missing its deficit target and warning that 2024’s fiscal shortfall would be bigger than expected.

Though traditionally strong on economic issues, that has left his party on a weak footing heading into European Union parliamentary elections in June, with the far right far ahead in the polls.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the foreign investments were the fruit of government efforts over the last seven years to cut corporate taxes, which far-left parties say have been far too generous.

Among other groups planning to boost their presence in France, drug companies Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novartis and GSK announced investments together worth over US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion).

Estonian high-power energy storage firm Skeleton Technologies pledged to invest €600 million over five years and create 300 jobs. Spain-based fertiliser group FertigHy plans to invest €1.3 billion in a low-emission hydrogen-based plant in northern France, creating 250 jobs.

Mr Macron was also scheduled to meet officials from Chinese battery company SVOLT as France pushes to create a battery manufacturing hub in the north.

Mr Le Maire was to host meetings on Monday with the CEOs of JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America, among others. REUTERS



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