Lunch Causerie with the French Ambassador to Belgium, H.E. Claude-France Arnould


After the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, France was put under an extended state of emergency (until the 15th of July 2017). In 2016 the attacks also had effects on certain economic sectors and rates of consumption. Predictions currently suggest that France’s GDP will see greater growth from 2018. According to the Banque de France, economic prospects for 2017 are looking good.

In order to find out what’s possible, and where the best opportunities lie in France, the Brussels Diplomatic Academy of the VUB, Voka Metropolitan and Voka Vlaams-Brabant are organising an Ambassador Lunch.

The French Ambassador to Belgium, H.E. Claude-France Arnould, will tell you everything you need to know about the French market and the commercial and investment opportunities it offers your company.


French Economy
According to the Banque de France, the economic outlook for 2017 is good. Predictions are for an average growth of 1.3% in 2017, slightly higher than 2015 (1.2%) and equivalent to 2016 (about 1.3%). It is suggested that this trend will continue, with an increase of 1.4% in 2017 and 1.5% in 2019. The budget deficit in 2016 will be 69,9 billion Euro or -3.3% of GDP after a drop of 3.4% in 2015 and 4.0% in 2014. The estimated deficit for 2017 is likely to be equivalent to a drop of 3.1% in GDP.

As for France’s regions, according to the most recent figures Île-de-France continues to drive France’s economy. The per capita GDP is twice as high in Île- de- France as in Hauts de France (Nord – Pas-de -Calais Picardië). The GDP of Île -de -France remains the highest (€ 52.298 per inhabitant), and the per capita GDP in Auvergne Rhône – Alpes is the second highest (€ 30.946 per inhabitant) in France.

In the fourth trimester of 2016 unemployment amounted to 9.7% of the active population in France, having been at 9.8% in the third trimester of 2016. In 2015 the average unemployment rate was still 10.4%. Contrary to the position in Germany, there are more people entering the labour market in France than are entering retirement. France therefore needs to create jobs in order to maintain a demographic balance.

The French government has taken a number of measures to improve French competitivity. These are the crédit d’impôt pour la compétitivité et l’emploi (CICE), a tax reduction for companies, and more specifically on social contributions on low and average wages, and the pacte the responsabilité that is intended to restore the competitiveness of French companies (40 billion Euro). In addition, the increase in labour costs has been considerably slowed down.

However, 2016 was not a good year for France’s foreign trade. Whereas in 2015 the trade deficit in goods dropped by 22%, 45.7 billion Euro, in 2016 it was 48.1%. This can be predominantly attributed to a decline in the processing industry and agriculture. This saw the end of a positive trend over the previous four years.

With a value of 453 billion Euro, global French exports dropped slightly, by 0.6%, when compared to 2015, because of a reduction in the sale of semi-finished goods and grain products. The air and space sector remained stable. There was an increase in the sale of cars for the third year in a row. Export in ships, car equipment and luxury goods saw an increase. However, when compared to 2015, imports did not remain stable, amounting to 501.1 billion, or a slight increase of 0.1%; purchases of transport equipment were predominantly responsible.

France’s market share of world trade has remained stable since mid-2011, with 3.1% for goods and 3.4% for goods and services. France has maintained its position as the sixth biggest exporter of goods and services in the world.



  • 12.00 Arrival and welcome drink
  • 12.15 Introduction by Hans Maertens, CEO Voka vzw
  • 12.20 Starter
  • 12.45 Presentation by Ambassador Claude-France Arnould
  • 13.15 Main course
  • 13.45 Q&A
  • 14.00 ‘Networking’ Dessert & coffee


Target audience:
This lunch is an absolute must for any entrepreneur wanting to know more about this world economic power, whether they are already doing business there and wishing to discuss this with fellow entrepreneurs, or looking for multiple business opportunities and wanting to hear about them first hand from the ambassador.


Practical information:
Wednesday the 9th of May 2018
12.00 to 14.30
110€ excl. VAT for Voka and BDA members
165€ excl. VAT for non-members
VOKA Metropolitan
Koningsstraat 154-158
1000 Brussels


Registration is possible via online registration of via

Further information:
Anja De Clercq
Tel: 02 255 20 24 or