France Lobbies Industrial Companies to Leave U.K., Avoid Tariffs

(Bloomberg) -- President Emmanuel Macron is stepping up his effort to court companies in the U.K., arguing that a move to France will shield industrial firms from potential tariffs after Brexit, according to a French official.

The French government has identified as many as 50 companies in the industrial sector, including automobile and pharmaceutical firms, that it will try to entice to relocate, according to the official, who asked not to be identified in line with Elysee Palace protocol. The companies are being promised a more stable tax environment and a friendlier tariff regime after the U.K. leaves the European Union.

Some of the companies targeted will be at Monday’s “Choose France” summit, Macron’s personal economic summit inside the Versailles Palace that he’s holding for a second year in a row, said the official. Executives will be attending as they travel to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The official declined to name the companies involved, saying the list was “confidential.” A Treasury official wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Tax Environment

The French government is expected to promise the companies a more forgiving tax environment inside the EU’s customs union, rather than face the uncertainty of a chaotic Brexit process that could result with the U.K. leaving without a deal. Supply chains out of the U.K. could be hit by future tariffs if Britain leaves the bloc without an agreement.

To make his case, Macron will give executives at the Versailles meeting a December study that shows Paris leading the race to attract financial jobs. He will also seek to reassure them about the Yellow Vest protest movement and his ability to stick to the reforms he pledged to complete during his five-year mandate.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire will support Macron at the Monday meeting and will also host a 20-person lunch on Jan. 24 in Davos with executives from pharmaceutical, construction, chemical, utility and mining companies.

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