The marked tendency over the last few years of French companies
coming to set up operations in Quebec will no doubt continue to
accelerate for the following reasons:
the dismal outlook in France
continues to prevail with no improvement expected to come from the
presidential elections in 2017 (which elections could even create
further social tension);
the strategy of French companies to
initially invest in Quebec (thereby becoming comfortable with North
American business practices) and to subsequently expand into the
American market is once again attractive as the United states
starts showing signs of economic recovery;
the weakness of the Canadian dollar
offers an attractive exchange rate for French purchasers; and
the conclusion in 2014 of free-trade
negotiations between Canada and the European Union with respect to
the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has raised a
certain amount of interest among Europeans in general and the
French in particular, even though the implementation of CETA will
take at least another year.
The result from a legal perspective is that French businesses
will be increasingly active in investing in Quebec, through the
acquisition of businesses (particularly family-owned ones with no
succession plan in place) or by entering into joint ventures in
order to diversify their operations outside of France. In some
cases the strategy will be based on CETA (arising notably from
increased dairy-product quotas) but the tendency can be noted
across all sectors of activity.
CETA will also lead to the opening up of public procurement
markets to Europeans, not only at the federal level (as is
typically the case with agreements of this nature – such as
NAFTA) but at the provincial and territorial levels as well, which
will constitute a radical change in current practices. Since France
is a country of engineers (their spectacular successes over the
years in infrastructure projects such as the Paris subway system,
high-speed trains, the Millau bridge and even the Eiffel Tower are
too often forgotten) it is easy to anticipate their interest in
developing the public procurement market in Canada (claimed by some
to represent at least 7% of our GDP...)
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While that agreement mandated export measures on Canadian softwood lumber exports destined for the United States, it also protected those lumber exports from the potential imposition of onerous import measures by the U.S.
On September 29, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its first tariff classification decision since Canada signed the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System in 1998.
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