Today’s digital revolution is as disruptive as the industrial one a century ago. Now as then, France claims its place as a creative trailblazer. French government and people have rediscovered a passion for industry. The young generation is equally enthusiastic: a recent survey shows that 76% of French high schools students in science and technology have a positive opinion of industry. However, only 40% imagine actually working in the industrial sector. This paradox underlines the importance of transforming industry in order to propose the new generation a digital-friendly, attractive professional playground And yet, industry is a motor of the French economy, bringing in €263 billion, or 13.8% of France’s GDP in 2015.
Industrial products represent more than 2/3 of France’s worldwide exports, or €420 billion in value, with the agro-alimentary sector in the lead. Foreign companies working in France have come to realize what the vitality of France’s economy and industry can offer them. For each of the past several years, France has been a favorite destination for foreign direct investments (FDI). Nearly one employee in eight works in a subsidiary of a foreign company. In industrial manufacturing, that ratio rises to one in five, more than in Germany, Italy, or Finland.
The Swiss agro-alimentary giant Nestlé counts more than 19,000 employees in France, while Barilla opened its biggest production site of 4,300 square meters in Chateauroux. The Japanese automaker Toyota chose the north of France as its European base. Moreover, the American company Hexcel has reinforced its presence in France with a new factory for polyacrylonitrile in Roussillon. France’s long-term strategy has allowed it to build innovation clusters that are capable of competing internationally. Exports are concentrated in strong value added sectors. The dynamism of the transport materials sector (a 10.5% rise in exports), led by aeronautics and automobiles, made up more than half the growth of the French export market in 2015.
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