French Trade Minister Promotes Houston Business Connections
by: Ed Mayberry, May 10, 2010 6:05:00 am
Anne-Marie Idrac visited Governor Rick Perry in Austin, stopped by the French exhibits at the Offshore Technology Conference, met with Houston Mayor Annise Parker and spoke to Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy. She also spoke to the French-American Chamber of Commerce, where State Senator Rodney Ellis talked about the great relationship Texas has with France.
"France is a key partner for us, in terms of trade. In the last two years, Texas exports to France have exceeded $2 billion. France's direct foreign investment in Texas exceeds $11 billion."
Foreign Trade Minister Idrac told the French-American chamber one of her missions is to progressively shift French international trade from Europe to other countries.
"Why? Because we have so many links. Texas could be the best place in the world to be. I am ready to believe that maybe, maybe after Paris, if you don't mind, maybe after Nice, to which Houston is in sistership. Houston really seems to be a very, very vibrant place to be."
Ms. Idrac was appointed to her position two years ago by President Nicolas Sarkozy, when the world was entering tough economic times.
"Last year the trade of all developed countries decreased by a factor of, let's say, of minus 12 percent, something like that. We think that with the beginning of the recovery all over the world, it is more and more important to have a more and more competitive and innovative entrepreneurship in France, which is beginning to give good results."
France is interested in American investment, but also in paving the way for more French firms to do business in Texas.
"Two-hundred French companies are already centered here, especially in the field of oil and gas. I think that we could develop in the field of transportation, bio and all sorts of green technologies."
Ed: "You're in a competitive field here. There are other countries that want to invest here. There are other countries that want U.S. investment."
"The competition is for everybody. When you are talking about international business and international trade, which is my job, Nicolas Sarkozy's economic policy is totally focused on the idea to improve competitiveness."
Some economists see a pickup in global trade as a key to pulling out the the worldwide recession.