Thoughts on the Paris Trade Mission: Optimism and a Warm Welcome


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Last month I was part of a two-day trip to Paris from London, representing ABP as part of the Mayor of London’s trade mission into Europe with fellow members of the ‘Go To Grow’ International Business Programme.

The Mayor’s International Business Programme alongside the London & Partners Go To Grow team arranged a very active and quality series of business events and meetings for us with collaborative corporates and supporters of entrepreneurship, as well as high-potential scale-ups in France who are looking to venture and expand into the UK.

Theresa May officially began the Brexit process by triggering Article 50 on Day 2 of our Paris trade mission; thankfully, no one in Paris seemed to hold this against us! The reception we received was tremendous and everyone was incredibly welcoming and positive.  They were excellent hosts, making clear that the British are very welcome in Paris, and reinforcing how much they want to forge closer working relationships with us.

It was also fantastic to see and hear many success stories of innovative companies scaling up in France, along with welcoming firms such as which was founded in the UK by two French entrepreneurs, and then expanded successfully into France.

Finally, we learnt so much!  ABP were in a cohort from London of 15 scale-ups exploring partnerships and international expansion.  It was good company, and we shared success and failure stories, as well as intelligence on strategic business network contacts.  We also learnt much from the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, VCs, entrepreneurs who have been there and done it before, as well as the mentors and business advisers who were generous with their time at networking events, panel talks and round tables.

Once the trade mission was over, several of us squeezed in a couple of hours’ leisure time into our travel plans to enjoy going to the top of the Eiffel Tower for stunning views, more networking and some wonderful French food and wine.

We came away with a number of fantastic opportunities and meetings to follow up and take our business to greater heights. I’m looking forward to returning to Paris again soon, especially considering it’s only two hours away via Eurostar!

Here are a few points which show how strong the relationship between London and Paris continues to be:

  • London receives more inward investment from France than any other global city, worth an estimated £3.07bn to the capital’s economy, with 11,900 jobs created over the last 10 years.
  • London is also the leading city globally for Foreign Direct Investment from Paris, attracting £2.6bn and 9,498 jobs over the same period.
  • The British capital currently counts over 2,300 companies with a French parent entity.
  • Paris is the largest European destination for Foreign Direct Investment from London. (Data received from The Mayor’s Office)

Everything I saw on the trade mission showed me that Paris is certainly open to collaborating and working with London for business and tourism. We witnessed no negativity resulting from Brexit. Only welcoming optimism.

Daryl Woodhouse is a business mentor, author and Head of Strategy & Leadership at Advantage Business Partnerships.