Happy New Year!
«To all the French citizens living in the constituency of the Consulate General, and to all our American friends, I wish an excellent year 2017. I hope it brings good fortune to you in all your endeavors.
The season lends itself to assessments. The consulate general is running at full speed, thanks to the dynamic team I’ve had the pleasure to join this year. The numbers speak for themselves. The number of people on the register of French people living abroad has grown: you were 19,700 at the end of 2012, and you are nearly 26,000 today. The number of visas issued to foreigners wishing to visit France has gone from 5,000 in 2012 to 6,000 in 2016. And the issuance of passports has remained strong (3,000 in 2012, 3,200 in 2016). With the same number of staff, we strive, despite this growth, to maintain reasonable scheduling time. Progress has been made thanks to certain procedures going digital: registration for the list of French people living abroad is now done online (www.service-public.fr) and we can now send voting proxies electronically to French city halls (which allows for the submission of proxies until the last days before elections). We are also actively preparing the elections for 2017, with 12 polling places for the Presidential election, and 8 for the Legislatives.
All this is only the tip of the iceberg. The consulate general is also working on many other subjects. A good portion of our time, for example, is devoted to the economy: helping French businesses conquer new markets, promoting the attractiveness of France to encourage American entrepreneurs to invest and create jobs there. It is up to us to inform the West Coast about the increasing assets that our country has to offer: productivity (7th in hourly productivity worldwide), working time (37.2 hours in France versus 36.7 in the U.K. and 35.2 in Germany according to Eurostat), entrepreneurship (530,000 businesses – of which 10,000 are startups – created in 2015), low taxation on research and development (the tax credit on research is the most generous in the world), and a rapid growth in venture capital (now 2nd in Europe in terms of technology investments after the U.K. and before Germany). In line with the dynamism of the French, our economic agency Business France just received the award for Excellence in Export Development Initiatives from a developed nation, given by the International Trade Center, a joint organization of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. Congrats to our 20 colleagues from the San Francisco team on the 7th floor!
Things are happening with equal intensity on the cultural cooperation side. We are thrilled at the idea of creating a writers’ residency in San Francisco in 2017. We are working with the greatest museums and art centers, which have prepared a true festival of exhibitions dedicated to French artists and their international influence: Rodin at the Portland Art Museum (January-April), Monet at the Legion of Honor (February-May), Matisse/Diebenkorn at SFMOMA (March-May), Stéphanie Solinas at FraenkelLAB (March-April), as well as Sophie Calle at Fort Mason (July). I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the French American Cultural Society, which has created two terrific programs that deserve recognition — one for artistic exchanges, and the other for university mobility (www.facs-sf.org). Please don’t hesitate to help their funding, if you wish to make a donation that has an impact on the French-American bilateral relationship!
Finally, we are fortunate to live in a region that is home to some of the most important labs and universities in the world, which makes us particularly passionate about our scientific oversight work. After Climate Change in 2015 and Health in 2016, we will be focusing our activities in 2017 on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. There, too, we are developing partnerships with the best universities and research institutions (incidentally, the France-Stanford Fund will celebrate its 15th anniversary this year), and we are helping entrepreneurs to transform the results of their research into a business plan with the program NETVA (New Technology Venture Accelerator).
In all these areas, the network that the consulate general has developed with French and American people from all professional backgrounds is a terrific source of information and action. Together, let us wish for all the best for 2017. No doubt there will be plenty of good — and less good — in the world, but we will have the satisfaction of having put our energy into making it better.»
Consul general of France in San Francisco