Russ: Welcome to a special edition of PKF Texas: Entrepreneurs Playbook, special because today is Coffee with the Consuls, a regular event that PKF sponsors, along with the Greater Houston Partnership. Today’s Coffee with the Consuls features France. And with me today, I have Philippe Yverniaux, the head of Investment in France for North America.
Rafael: Nice to meet you, Russ.
Russ: You bet. Along with Rafael Carsalade, of PKF Texas. Rafael, good to see you.
Rafael: Nice to be here, Russ.
Russ: You bet. In fact, let’s start with you, Rafael. Why don’t you tell us about PKF’s history in starting up Coffee with the Consuls with the GHP?
Rafael: Well, Russ, we do a lot of international work. I’m international tax director, so I’m constantly dealing with our clients and different PKF affiliates in different countries, so we thought Houston being such an international city with about 93 consulates and consul representations here, that this would be a great venue to showcase Houston’s international abilities and also bring the international community here in Houston together.
Russ: Great. Well, I always enjoy ’em, and today in particular because it’s France. Philippe, it’s great to have you here in Houston. Talk to us a little bit about what you do.
Philippe: So I’m the head of the North American operations of Investment France which is a French government agency whose sole mission is to assist American companies in developing new activities in our country.
Russ: Okay, and how long have you been doing that?
Philippe: Many years. I came to New York three years ago. Before that, I was posted in London, and I love working here in the US.
Russ: Okay. And is it easy today to get Investment in France out of North America?
Philippe: It’s actually much easier than what you might think. The US are the first country of foreign investment France. About 25 percent of all foreign investment coming to France comes from the US. By the way, France is the first destination for foreign investments in Continental Europe, and the first destination for American investments in Continental Europe.
Russ: Okay, cool. Why should a business consider setting up operations in France these days?
Philippe: I think that there are three main reasons. The first one is, obviously, the market. You have to realize not many people know that, that the EU _____ European union market is bigger than the North American market, including the US, Canada, and Mexico. So when you consider expanding your business outside of the local market, if you like, North America, China, Brazil, Russia, are certainly very interesting and fast-growing countries. But the biggest market on Earth still is Europe, and France is the heart of this market. That’s probably the main and first reason.
Russ: Okay, great. Well, I really appreciate you sharing that with us. We’re fans of the global economy, and, God, we’re also fans of France, too, big time, so I’ve enjoyed spending time with you today and hearing the story. Okay, tell us about Coffee with the Consuls in the future, Rafael.
Rafael: Well, Russ, we’ve had a really successful year for 2012, and we’re already starting to plan 2013, and we’ve got about six or seven countries that we’ve got lined up. And stayed tuned for the series of events that’s coming up because I think it’s gonna be even more exciting than what we had this year.
Russ: Fantastic. Well, Philippe, Raphael, thanks a lot.
Philippe: You’re welcome.
Rafael: Thank you.
Russ: And that wraps up today’s Entrepreneur’s Playbook.