France’s ambassador-at-large for international investment, Clara Gaymard, visited Atlanta March 11-12 to promote new measures passed by her government to encourage foreign investment.

With a recent trip to China still on her mind, she told GlobalAtlanta that many American businesses were aware of China’s status as the nation attracting the most amount of foreign investment these days.

But few realized, she added, that in 2002, the year China assumed the top position for foreign direct investment, France was ranked just behind.

“France ranks No. 2 worldwide for investment inflows and No. 2 in Europe for job creation from foreign direct investment,” she said citing 42 Georgia companies among U.S. companies with a presence in France that employ 13,900 people.

She cited Coca-Cola Co., Georgia-Pacific Corp., GE Energy, United Parcel Service Inc., Schweizer-Maudit International Inc., AGCO Corp., Simmons Co., Newell-Rubbermaid Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and Larson Juhl LLC as Georgia’s top 10 investors France.

Her mission to Georgia was to attract even more companies with new measures that she said make entry into France easier than ever before.

She underlined new streamlined procedures for entry, citing a new centralized unit for handling requests for visas, work and residence permits, which apply to top-level executives and their families.

Executives working for companies that are at least three years old and have more than 400,000 euros in capital are guaranteed permits within three weeks of the time that their application is delivered to a French consulate.

The Invest in France Agency of which she also serves as president has developed Internet capability for interested companies who can refer to a specially tailored Web site that will provide information on salaries, real estate costs, logistical and other pertinent information.

In addition, she pointed to new tax credits for research and development and cited France’s achievements particularly in the areas of agricultural science and biotechnology.

A new $2.5 billion investment in France by Motorola Inc. for a nanotechnology center should be of interest to Georgia, she said, because of Georgia’s development of the Nanotechnology Research Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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