• Luncheon with Laurent Wauquiez, Secrétaire d'État à l'Emploi

    November 17 2009, 12:30 - 12:30
    Location: Park Hyatt Paris - Vendôme, 5 Rue de la Paix - 75002 Paris

    On November 17, Laurent Wauquiez, Minister of Employment, addressed over 50 AmCham members at the Park Hyatt Vendome Hotel.  He compared the different economic recovery models in the U.S. and France, pointing out that France, with a rise in the unemployment rate of only 20-30% did far better than most countries.  This was possible largely because recovery measures were targeted at areas of immediate employment impact rather than funding consumption, and because automatic stabilizers in France take effect more quickly.  He emphasized that France has learned over time not to save dying industries -- such as its mines a number of years ago -- but to focus on areas of comparative advantage.  France is also trying not to sacrifice employment of older experienced employees, since they have the necessary know-how for recovery.  Firms in trouble were encouraged not to over adjust to the economic downturn and to use shortened work weeks, and special help was given to SMEs and service firms.
    Wauquiez emphasized that employment sector reforms continued during the crisis and that the government is doing what it can to improve professional training, to lower social charges, and to make its new one-stop "Pole Emploi" a successes.  He was proud of France's lead in stimulating research through tax credits, and hoped to find a way to eliminate some burdensome taxes, saying the he is aware that AmCham CEOs must defend their investment decisions to the home office in face of tough competition from offices in other countries.  He hoped that the civil service could be made more efficient and reduced in size, but worried that this would only work if regional authorities did the same.  Responding to the annual AmCham-Bain Barometer on the French investment climate, Wauquiez said that the trend in investor confidence is positive, and that he would like to see more American-style optimism in France.