From the desk of the Consul General: May 2019 [fr]
Dear French and American friends,
Our Southeast U.S. jurisdiction is immense and holds several hidden gems which sometimes go unnoticed.
Did you know, for example, that the artificial turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, where the last Super Bowl was held, is made by FieldTurf, one of the world leaders in sports surfaces? FieldTurf, which is based in Canada but has manufacturing facilities in Calhoun, Ga., is a subsidiary of French multinational corporation Tarkett, a company formerly known as Sommer-Allibert. Thus it is a French firm that outfits countless stadiums, school sports fields, tracks and other athletic surfaces across the American continent — not to mention across the rest of the world. I learned this on a recent tour organized by the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Trips such as this create an opening to encounter businesses, universities and museums and to notice each time how our connections are alive and dynamic.
This brings me to the fact that my European colleagues and myself bear a collective message: The European Union, a world commercial power, is a privileged U.S. partner, with more than $1.15 trillion in annual trade in a quasi-balanced relationship (the EU having a slight advantage in goods, and the United States in services). During a trip with my European colleagues to the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle, discussion between business leaders and the French, German, Dutch and Irish representatives focused on several key points. These included the facts that the European Union is a partner and not a commercial adversary. They also included that U.S. trade barriers and measures affecting steel, aluminum and automobiles do nothing but harm tens of millions of American workers in the U.S Southeast. Our visit confirmed this: not a sole economist nor a sole manager, American or European, thought otherwise. Investments must continue, for the benefit of all. The United States remained the largest investor in France in 2018. Conversely, France makes a huge contribution to the European footprint in the United States, notably in the Southeast.
One example of this is French biopharmaceutical firm Cellectis, which recently made a major investment in North Carolina ($68 million, 200 jobs — see the article in this newsletter). The work carried out in EU member-state consulates is centered on preserving and reinforcing this relationship, which is inescapable in international trade.
The conclusion is easy: On May 25, do not forget to vote in the European elections! Our voting stations in Atlanta, Greenville and Raleigh will open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
See you soon,
Louis de Corail
Consul General of France