Following a partial transcript by the Daily Post of my interview with Buzz FM, I read with interest Ian Kerr’s comments published on the issue # 5941 of Thursday, 6th of February, 2020.

I do appreciate his efforts to provide additional information to your readers, however, due to involuntary inaccuracies in his opinion article, I feel obliged to add a couple of precisions: First of all, Mr Kerr seems to imply that there is an attempt to “deflect France’s placing of Vanuatu on the blacklist by blaming the EU”.

A careful reading of my interview gives a different picture when it says “the EU list was established by EU members and France is one of them”. As I said in the radio interview, France, as EU member, is perfectly in line with that decision.” Then Mr Kerr makes reference to an OECD “Competitiveness” ranking. In reality, Mr Kerr is referring to “Fiscal competitiveness”. May I suggest here that competitiveness is not just about taxes (except for would-be tax evaders I suppose), it is a complex combination of multiple factors. Facts being stronger than ideology, let us rely on accurate figures:

In 2019, France ranks 15th (up to two notches over 2018) in the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum. It is higher than Australia (16), Norway (17), Luxemburg (18), New Zealand (19) and even China (28). Our strengths include macroeconomic stability, health, infrastructure, financial system development and market size. Moreover, France is a prominent innovation hub.

Of the OECD countries, according to the OECD data, France ranks 1st on social spending which means that our country’s economy and society rely on solidarity and redistribution of resources, targeting low-income households, the elderly, disabled, sick, unemployed or young persons.

According to Business France, the French public debt was 98,4% of the GDP in 2018 which is absolutely not an obstacle to economic attractiveness as France received 37,3 billion dollars in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) flows the same year. This is an increase of 25% compared to 2017. In the meantime, the world FDI flows in 2018 was decreasing by 13%, which means that France was against the world’s trend.

Last but not least, according to the Kearney Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index, France ranks 5th worldwide in 2019, which means investors show strong and increasing confidence in the business opportunities of our country.

To put it simply, we are proud of a society which still considers solidarity and welfare as one of our most precious assets. We are also confident that, based on shared values and the quality of bilateral dialogue with Vanuatu, we will be able, along with EU, to find common ground and a quick way out of the current situation.

Pierre Fournier

Ambassador of France to Vanuatu

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