Business in Paris
is the fourth largest economic power in the world in terms of GDP and
the second largest exporter of services and agricultural products.
Paris and the Ile-de-France region are responsible for 30% of the
country's total GDP, roughly equivalent to the GDP of London and
Brussels combined. |
The Paris region is predominantly a service
economy, followed in importance by commerce, industry, construction and
agriculture. In the Ile-de-France, there are about 550,000 companies
and about 260,000 in Paris itself. Particular strengths are in
pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, publishing and research, with
Paris ranking first in Europe in terms of research development. Five of
the French banks (including Credit Agricole, BNP and the Caisse d'Epargne) are among the 12 largest commercial banks in Europe.
excellent transport and telecommunications network, highly skilled
workforce, quality of life and prestige of Paris have encouraged
companies to locate in the city, which hosts 38 'Fortune 500
International' company headquarters (ranking second in the world after
Tokyo). Many others, including Sony and the National Bastketball Association, IBM, Hewlett Packard France, Siemens and Motorola have a presence in Paris. In total, the French capital has attracted about 2400 foreign companies and 420 foreign banks.
attracts 35 million visitors annually and is considered to be the
world's most popular international conference venue. Its 1200 annual
conventions include 300 international conferences and 300 trade shows.
The city also earns more than FFr23 billion a year from business
tourism and in excess of FFr65 billion from tourist visits. That said,
the economy is not in a bouyant state at the moment. Economic growth
was below 3% in 1999, unemployment remains a steady 11-12%, and there
are said to be 50,000 homeless people on the streets and in the metro
The main business districts are located in the 8th
around the avenue des Champs-Elysees, 2nd, where the Bourse (stock
exchange) is located near to rue de la Banque in a grand First Empire
building and the smart 16th arrondissement. The futuristic business district La Defense is home to the huge CNIT exhibition hall and Elf, Gan and Fiat.
Business Etiquette: A
degree of Parisian aggression and plenty of persistence is necessary
when attempting business in the capital. However, firmness, not
rudeness, is in order. At the first meeting, non-French speakers should
apologise for their lack of linguistic aptitude and respect the local
formality, addressing colleagues with the appropriate Madame, Monsieur, Professeur or Docteur
followed by the surname and a handshake. Business cards (preferably in
French and English) should be presented. Small talk is an essential
part of business, so it is wise to do a quick refresher on French
politics and culture prior to the meeting and not to rush straight to
the serious stuff. Smart, conservative, dress is recommended. Standard
business hours are 0830/0900-1800/1900. Lunches may last for two hours
or more (so it is best to schedule meetings at 1100 or 1500, unless for
lunch itself). Business lunches are popular, working dinners common and
breakfast meetings an increasing trend. Whoever fixes the meeting is
expected to settle the bill. Conducting business in August - during the
Parisian exodus to the south - is to be avoided at all costs.