“The Business Directorate has only 70 staff members, so each of you make up 1/70th of our total brainpower. And we need you all running at full steam!”.
These closing lines by our director, @MaireJacques, at the seminar organized to discuss our first year of existence, give an idea of the extent of areas covered by the toolbox that is our directorate. From participating in G20 working groups, such as the anti-corruption group, monitoring secured business funding internationally, to supporting exports of tidal stream generators or cooperation in the area of innovation and research and development, all our actions are aimed at “economic diplomacy with and for businesses”.
Diverse diplomacy in the fast lane
No two days are the same at the Business Directorate. Today, for example, after a meeting to prepare SMEs for the French President’s next overseas trip, which will include our Director, we had to fill out the paperwork for our Head’s trip to the coordination meeting for Ambassadors and the Heads of their economic departments for East Africa, before he left for the Invest in France Agency’s board of directors meeting. All in 45 minutes…
We then had to get approval from the deputy spokesperson and the Secretary-General of the Quai d’Orsay-Entreprises meetings regarding the press release to announce these annual discussions with several hundred companies at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
On my way out, I run into the editor in charge of the food sector. Thanks to our diplomatic network, he has put in place a promotional campaign for the Paul chain of French bakeries in Scandinavia, because “every new Paul bakery that opens means €300,000 in extra revenue for France”.
A diplomatic telegram later, I hop on a Vélib’ self-service bike to arrive in time for a meeting with companies at the Medef employers’ union attended by our ambassador in Japan.
A multifaceted mission
With such diverse missions, we all must wear several hats. For example, a year ago my friend Jean-Sébastien was dealing with export credit financing, while currently he is working on supporting the tourism and sports sectors. There he goes now, fresh from a meeting with the Director of International Clientele for Galeries Lafayette, to give a better welcome to foreign tourists.
All these missions, however, have one thing in common: to help to better defend France’s economic interests in the world.
Can it be said that each of us make up 1/70th of economic diplomacy? Not exactly: economic diplomacy is also exercised by the Embassies, which around the world implement on the ground the policies led by the central administration in France. Our thousands of colleagues worldwide thus also contribute to economic diplomacy every day.
We can, however, put down 1/70th of the coffee drunk, telegrams sent and bike chains broken to the Business Directorate!