French Ambassador Philippe Etienne’s visit to North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee [fr]
As part of his tour of all the French Consulate Generals in the United States, Ambassador Philippe Etienne visited three states in the southeast of the United States from February 19 to 25, 2020. The purpose of his visit was to discover the different regions of the United States and meet with the political, economic, academic and cultural leaders key to maintaining and strengthening the relationship between France and the United States.
It was the Ambassador’s first visit to these states since his appointment, in the summer of 2019, as the French Ambassador to the United States.
The Ambassador’s visit began in Raleigh, North Carolina – a state which is home to several large French companies. Indeed, French companies are the fourth largest foreign employer in the state, creating 20,000 salaried posts. During his meeting with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Ambassador Etienne underscored France’s important economic presence in the state as well as the long-standing cooperation between French and North Carolina universities.
During his visit on the campus of Duke University, the French Ambassador awarded Dr. Adrian Bejan, a professor of engineering and the "the father of the constructal law" with the French Order of the Academic Palms. He also visited the Raleigh campus of the French “Grande Ecole” SKEMA Business School, which is located on North Carolina State University’s Centennial campus. While at SKEMA, he also met with entrepreneurs interested in creating a "French Tech Carolines" community and representatives from the North Carolina Research Triangle Partnership.
In addition, he visited the American headquarters of BioMerieux, a French company that has six locations in the United States and employs more than 4,000 people in North America.
During a reception at the Maison de France in Raleigh - which houses the French-American Chamber of Commerce of the Carolinas, the French School of Raleigh and the Alliance Française of Raleigh, he was able to exchange with the region’s French and French-speaking communities.
“The Volunteer State” was the next stop during the Ambassador’s visit. Bilateral trade between France and Tennessee is $1.2 billion, which include more than $800 million in exports of French goods to the state.
During his meeting with Governor Bill Lee, the Ambassador expressed his interest in strengthening ties between France and Tennessee in all areas. He also met the Mayor of the city of Nashville - which is twinned with the city of Caen in Normandy.
During a visit to the Mount Juliet site of CEVA Logistics, the Ambassador had the opportunity to discuss the significance of the operations of this CMA CGM subsidiary in the context of its parent group’s international development strategy.
He also attended a “Lunch & Learn” which was held on the campus of Vanderbilt University and focused on Franco-American relations and modern diplomacy. The Ambassador’s visit in Tennessee concluded with a lunch reception at the Alliance Française de Nashville, which provide an excellent opportunity for the ambassador to meet members of the region’s French and French-speaking communities.
On February 22, Ambassador Philippe Etienne headed for Atlanta, the capital of the state of Georgia. The state is home to the largest French community in the U.S. southeast (excluding Florida).
During his meeting with Governor Brian Kemp, the Ambassador underscored the important economic ties between France and the state of Georgia. Indeed, bilateral trade between France and the state is nearly $3 billion, with trade predominately centered on the transport, manufactured goods and the chemical industries.
The Ambassador attended meetings at Orange Business Services, a division of the French group Orange, as well as at The Coca-Cola Company headquarters. He also met with the French-American Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta and the Metropolitan Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, as well as with the local network of French Foreign Trade Advisers. These exchanges enabled him to discover the economic situation of the region as well as opportunities to strengthen commercial ties in all sectors.
During a lunch meeting with representatives of the Atlanta University Consortium Center as well as Morehouse College and Spelman College, the Ambassador reiterated the value of shared university cooperation between France and the region.
The Ambassador concluded his visit with a reception, in the presence of Ambassador Andrew Young and Mr. Rodney Cook, Jr., organized in honor of the Atlanta Peace Park project.