French President Francois Hollande has unveiled a raft of proposals to woo entrepreneurs and small business owners to the country.
Among the new measures will be an "entrepreneur's visa" for foreign investors. This will be available to foreigners seeking to set up an innovative start-up in France if they invest a "sufficient amount" of money. The French leader also announced that new services are to be set up in some parts of the world - beginning with the US and Asia - to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) export their goods and services abroad.
Speaking to a group of 300 entrepreneurs in Paris, Hollande set out a number of proposals which would help to attract business to the country. The most-awaited reform concerned the capital gains tax on sales of company stakes or entire firms, which was due to be increased as part of plans to reduce the public deficit. Hollande announced that business owners will still have to pay the tax, but could get up to 85% exemptions if they had owned or held a stake for at least eight years, or smaller rebates for shorter periods.
Fleur Pellerin, junior minister for SMEs, told BFMTV that the package of measures reflected "the way in which we perceive the role that entrepreneurs must play in our society for the success of our country”.
Among other measures, Hollande said the French Public Investment Bank - set up last year to help innovative SMEs - would create a new financing tool for setting up firms in underprivileged areas.The measures were broadly welcomed by business owners.
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