LEADING French newspaper Le Monde has hit back at American magazine Newsweek and its “Frenchbashing” article “The Fall of France” by giving a reminder of the reasons why French people should be proud of their country.
Saying it was a beautiful country, with a high birth rate and high productivity, it said that while criticisms of France for being bureaucratic, spendthrift and tangled in laws were legitimate, these criticisms had become systematic, automatic and unfair.
It said France was still an attractive country for foreign investors – and Ernst & Young said that in 2012 it was the leading European country for foreign industrial investment and third most attractive in the world behind the UK and Germany.
France was also No4 in the world for its overseas investment according to UN commercial figures, and its foreign offshoots accounted for business totalling nearly €1,000 billion and employed nearly five million people.
There were 90 French start-up companies on the Deloitte list of the 500 fastest-growing companies in Europe, Africa and the Middle-East – with five in the top 30. Even the Financial Times had listed France ahead of Germany as an advantageous place to launch a new business.
Students also saw the benefits of France, as it is the world’s third biggest draw, behind the US and the UK, with Unesco figures showing that in 2013 there were 288,544 foreign students, to make 7% of the world total.
While France is classed as second most productive country in the world, behind the US, it does so despite a shorter working year of just 1,479 hours and with a value per working hour of €45.4, compared to €42.6 in Germany and €37.2 for the rest of the Eurozone.
It also has high population growth – and high life expectancy. The birthrate in 2012 of 2.01 children for each woman is the second highest in Europe, and well ahead of the US figure of 1.89. Life expectancy is 84 years for a woman and 78 for men – as against 80 and 75 in the US and 83 and 78 in Germany.
In addition, Le Monde also pointed to the worldwide praise for French gastronomy - saying the food industry was the No1 employer in France; its position as the world’s No1 tourist destination, pulling in 83million visitors a year, well ahead of the US on 67m; the dynamism of its luxury goods sector, which took a quarter of the world’s €210billion global luxury market in 2012, and its position in the top three of the Fortune Global 500 with the world’s biggest companies.
Photo: Phatz- fotolia.com