Today the Ambassador Extraodinary and Plenipotentiary of France in Ukraine Jean-Paul VESIAN answers the questions of Image.UA
– How does the image of the country influence the attractiveness of investments?
– The image of the country significantly influences its ability to attract investments. In addition to ratings assigned to the country by big rating agencies or international financial institutions, potential investors thoroughly scrutinize many other criteria, which include: the practice of carrying out business in the country, state of legislation, protection of property and investments, efficiency of justice, etc. As for Ukraine, irrespective of a noticeable growth in foreign investments, including French ones, they still do not reach the level that any big country with a population of nearly 50,000 can count on. Numerous permits to be obtained for work in Ukraine (which very often serve the grounds for corruption), gaps in legislation, which cause sometimes weird decisions, multiple tax inspections of enterprises, which as a rule pay the taxes, the problems, which arise in relations with the bodies of justice when any court may take a decision on any issue, raiding practice — all these present concerns for investors and certainly impede the investment activity.
– France is one of the most important strategic investors of Ukraine. Can you name the branches where the most successful projects have been accomplished?
– French investments in Ukraine are, primarily, concentrated in banking and agrarian sectors. The Ukrainians are quite aware that “Ukrsibbank” and “Indexbank” are presently the branches of French banks BNP Paribas and Crédit agricole, respectively. However, not everyone knows that France ranks the first in Ukraine among foreign producers of dairy products (5% of the total volume of production in the country) under such brands as Président, Danone or Shostka, which belongs to Bongrain Company. Very often consuming domestic production beer, they have no idea that the malt required for its production is supplied … by French companies Malteurop and Soufflet that grow and process it in Ukraine. This is an example of mutually beneficial cooperation: many thousands of Ukrainians are currently working in enterprises funded with French capital.
– How will the organization and holding of EURO-2012 influence business relations between France and Ukraine?
– France has extensive experience in the arrangement of international sports events: everyone remembers the World Championship – 1998, and the Rugby World Championship, which took place last year. One of the tournaments called “Big helmet” is held each autumn in Paris on the courts of Rolland Garros.
Our enterprises were also attracted to the preparation of the Olympic Games in Beijing. After all, France is a native country for many world leaders in the accomplishment of projects based on partnership of state and private structures: water supply companies Veolia and Suez, companies specializing in building and the exploitation of roads and parking lots Vinci. The Stade de France was built with the use of this innovative form of financing. Let’s also mention Accor Company, which is one of the major world players in the sphere of the hotel and exhibition business.
In addition everyone acknowledges the quality of French infrastructure in the field of railway and air transport. All this know-how, which has recently been the subject of the seminar arranged and held in Paris (to which Ukrainian officials responsible for the preparation for EURO 2012 have been invited) are now proposed for implementation by Ukraine and Poland. Thus, our investments into your country should develop.
– What would you recommend as an example of successful business cooperation, namely accomplished investment projects?
– French enterprises, namely in banking and agro-industrial sectors, as well in the sphere of production of semi-products can be noted as an example of mutually beneficial economic partnership.
BNP, Crédit agricole, Société générale, buying into the Ukrainian banks, not only help to modernize this sector but also facilitate the development of banking services in your country and increase the level of its banking. Their role in credit offers is also significant as it promotes economic growth of the country. Finally, these French enterprises offer new work places for a great number of Ukrainian employees.
Answering one of your questions I have already mentioned our agro-industrial enterprises. But now I want to note the role of Lafarge Company, which has recently opened a plant specializing in the production of plaster slabs near Artemivsk. This way Lafarge creates work places and facilitates the production of semi-products required for the building sector, which as is known is the key element of economic growth.
– And what are the dynamics of the growth of French investments in Ukraine?
– In 2006, after huge investments by the biggest French banks, such as the BNP, Calyon and Société Générale the volume of French investments grew significantly. The total volume of French investments, which in 2006 amounted to USD 82,000,000 (21st place) grew by the end of 2007 up to USD 1,000,000,000 and rank the 4th after Germany, the USA and Russia. French companies operating in Ukraine continue their investment activity in Ukraine or seek for relative methods. The flow of direct foreign investments reached USD 200,000,000 in 2007 and the appearance of new enterprises, such as the first hypermarket Auchan, which has recently been opened in Petrivka signals the continuation of this tendency.
– The task of our publication Image.UA is the formation of a positive international image of the country and coverage of contemporary experience in the sphere of investments and partnership. What is your opinion? Do we need such a media as Image.UA today?
– It is rather hard for me to answer your question. I do not see anything bad in the fact that the country supports its mass media for distributing positive information about itself among influential world players and international investors. At the same time you should not forget that except for words and information campaigns, the actual state of affairs in the country, i.e. favorable investment climate, which has many required components, is the most important factor.