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  • Writer's pictureTaavi Salm

Why should you be doing business in France?

Updated: Mar 9, 2020


Real GDP: $2.81 trillion (USD)

Population: 64.93 million

France is the second largest economy in Europe, and the sixth largest in the world. As one of the world’s most visited nations, France’s tourism industry is a major component of the country’s economy. France is also Europe’s leading agricultural center, and the sixth largest agricultural producer in the world. Other influential sectors include the chemical industry, manufacturing, services, energy, and the defense industry. The digital industry is still in his early stages and growing rapidly.

Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power

France, has an ageing population, with a median age of 41.4 years. Consumers enjoy a high spending power, and the GDP per capita was of 42,779 USD in 2017 (26th in the world). France stands out by its high consumption of entertainment, culture and gifts. The French consumer, buys often and likes to try new and innovative products. With regards to most products, French people prefer to buy local and are demanding on quality. They are worried about respecting the environment and their health (organic products are booming).

GDP per capita (USD) of France , Spain and Estonia - Data from Worldbank


France has one of the most sophisticated infrastructures in the world, developed through the government's investments in the field and made possible by advanced technology. A network of different types of transportation covers the whole country, including air, land, river, sea and rail transportation. The French National Railways (SNCF), using some of the fastest trains in the world shortens the distance between Paris and Marseille (862 km) to 3 hours and 15 minutes. There are around 170 commercial airports in France, many of which serve international traffic. The sea and river traffic is also quite heavy.

The communications infrastructure of France also ranks high among advanced countries. High speed internet is available in all the big cities and is rapidly developing in the rural regions. The mobile networks cover the whole country.

Viaduct of Millau, Millau, France

Foreign investors

Currently, France hosts more the 22,000 foreign companies. Especially Paris and the whole of Ile-de-France are the home of many headquarters of multinational companies. In fact, France ranks among the most attractive countries for foreign investment.


The digital economy is gaining ground. In France, it already contributes an estimated 5% to GDP, and the number of digital businesses is estimated at around 115 000. To reinforce the booming web economy, the government is now focusing their attention on how to structure and support the industry. One of the more famous initiatives, named French Tech, launched in December of 2013. The idea was to federate, support, and promote to bring together the various components of the French digital ecosystem. More recently, France’s strong reputation and attractiveness in the digital market makes attracting young entrepreneurs from around the world the logical next step.So if the idea is to attract international entrepreneurs, is France ready to host them? The current decade has seen the emergence of a variety of physical locations intended to accommodate digital businesses, and these can be divided into three categories

  • The first category includes incubators, accelerators and other Fab Lab locations. Paris is arguably the European capital for incubators, accelerators and fab labs, which occupy some 100 000 m2 of physical space

  • The second category is made up of major architectural projects explicitly intended to become landmarks in the digital economy. These are similar in concept as the previous category but much bigger in scale. For example an old rail freight depot was restructured as the world largest startup facility - Station F

  • The third category includes those locations of the digital economy that are still governed by more traditional real estate players who are eager to jump on the digital bandwagon

Station F

France and Estonia

France and Estonia have signed an e-government agreement to develop the digital economy.

There are three sections to the agreement signed by Mounir Mahjoubi, French Secretary of State in charge of Digital Affairs, and Urve Palo, Estonian Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology: digital governance, digital economy, and cyber-security. It also mentions the possibility of “sharing existing technical solutions”, “organizing joint events”, setting up “pilot projects” and increasing “expert visits”.

Estonia and France also want to develop “partnerships” between start-ups from both countries. They also claim to want to “coordinate” on European issues related to digital policy.

Tallinn Digital Summit. Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid and French President Emmanuel - Photo: Annika Haas

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