Dar businessman attends key France Summit in Paris

25Jan 2020
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Dar businessman attends key France Summit in Paris

A Dar es Salaam-based businessman Mohammed Dewji was only Tanzanian, and East African CEO who took part at the France Presidential Dinner with Emmanual Macron at the Chateau de Versailles Monday during the annual Choose France Summit.

Mohammed Dewji

During the discussion, Dewji asked the France President: “What is your strategy for Anglophone Africa?” (Keeping in mind France typically fosters business and political relationships with their former colonies and Francophone Africa).

Macron enthusiastically replied that his strategy for Africa not focused on Francophone Africa. His recent partnership in Rwanda with President Paul Kagame is illustrative to this.

In his twitter account, Dewji said: “It was pleasure being hosted for dinner with President of France, Emmanuel Macron. His honesty and witty insights on the ever changing geopolitical landscape and complexity around national sovereignty really blew me away.” He described Macron as very charismatic leader with foresight to move France forward.

In his speech, Macron urged business leaders to 'Choose France', insisting that his reforms are attracting investors despite six weeks of crippling protests and walkouts over his plan to overhaul the retirement system.

Driving home the message that the eurozone's second-largest economy remains open for business, Macron's government announced a 2 billion-euro ($2.2 billion) contract for the French shipyard of Saint-Nazaire on the Atlantic coast.

It will build two cruise ships for the company MSC, representing some 2,400 jobs over three years. MSC confirmed plans to build other ships in France for another 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion).

“Good news doesn't arrive out of nowhere. It comes because we are implementing reforms, because our country is moving, mobilizing,” Macron said. "I know that our heads are being filled with bad news and that we're led to believe that everything is going to explode. But it's not true."

Macron delivered those comments to workers at a plant of British-Swedish pharmaceuticals company Astrazeneca in the northern town of Dunkirk, one of his stops on a frenetic day of efforts to convince investors to choose France. Astrazeneca announced $500 million in new investments over the next 5 years.

Later, in Versailles, Macron hosted 180 international business leaders, including top executives from Google, Netflix, Coca-Cola, Toyota, Samsung and General Electric. Many executives were stopping en route to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Coca-Cola said it would invest 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) over the next 5 years in France, including in its Dunkirk plant.

Japanese automaker Toyota said last week it will build a new car model at its plant in Valenciennes, northern France, which represents 400 jobs and 100 million euros ($110 million) in investments.

“France has become the most attractive country for industrial investments and research and development investments in Europe,” Finance minister Bruno Le Maire told French news broadcaster LCI. "We are attractive for innovation."

Le Maire acknowledged that Britain’s planned departure of the European Union, which prompted some companies to move some of their business to an EU country, has given a boost to investments in France. “Of course we play on every economic opportunity,” he said.

American bank JP Morgan said it had bought new offices in central Paris, with space to house about 450 employees, to get better access to the EU market after Brexit.

Macron was elected in 2017 on a pro-European, pro-business platform and argued that France must become more globally competitive.

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