Saturday, January 22, 2005

France looking attractive to British nanotech talent

Madame Chic is seducing for France (The Times)

    FrenchSHE is intelligent, good-looking and bilingual — just what is needed, say politicians in Paris, to charm British and American businessmen. Meet Clara Gaymard, “ambassador for international investment” and figurehead of a campaign to lure foreign capital to France.

    There could scarcely be a more compelling example of French savoir-faire: apart from trotting the globe to drum up investment, Gaymard, 44, is a mother of eight children aged from 7 to 17, and also enjoys Rollerblading. She is married to Hervé Gaymard, minister of finance. In selling France’s advantages to the business world they make a formidable team.

    On Wednesday they will be joining leaders such as Tony Blair at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Swiss ski resort, where the French will host a cocktail party for 60 foreign chief executive officers.

    “We want to explain to them the reforms that have been carried out in France,” said Clara Gaymard last week. “Over the past two years France has changed dramatically.”

    “English people are voting with their feet,” said Gaymard. “We have a great increase of English people coming to live in France.”

    She may be right, even if Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the prime minister, seems to regard them as less significant to the French economy than French émigrés are to the British gross national product. In talks with Blair in London last year Raffarin was quoted as telling his British counterpart half-jokingly: “You send us your old people but we send you our young.”

    Gaymard does not see it quite like that. The exodus of young French people, particularly to the City of London, is more than matched, she says, by the skilled young British people coming to France in search of work in nanotechnology. More here

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