From left, Michele Oliveres, president of the French American Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta chapter; Pascal Le Deunff, Consul General of France and Frederic Mot, executive director of the French chamber, at the Piedmont Driving Club reception.

France’s recently arrived consul general to the Southeast outlined his strategic priorities during a reception held by the French American Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta chapter at the Piedmont Driving Club in Midtown Sept. 15.

Pascal Le Deunff started his tenure at the beginning of September, replacing Philippe Ardanaz who returned to Paris. He was senior adviser and deputy head of mission at the French embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.

Mr. Le Deunff promised to continue the public diplomacy of Mr. Ardanaz by working with public officials and university representatives, but he announced that the consulate would be moving and that a new attaché for university and scientific cooperation would join the staff.

By moving from its current Piedmont Road location to the Lenox Building at 3399 Peachtree Road near Lenox Square mall in Buckhead, the consulate would be more accessible to the public, he said.

The French American Chamber of Commerce, the consulate’s trade office, the Atlanta-Accueil association and the French Saturday School are expected to share the new quarters in what Mr. Le Deunff viewed as a consolidation of resources.

The new attaché’s position represented an initiative to further the cooperation between U.S. and French scientific research institutions.

“Both France and the American Southeast share the benefit of excellent universities and research centers,” he said. “Contacts and exchanges between them already exist, but we must develop further bilateral cooperation and partnerships.”

The attaché’s task will be to identify new possibilities for collaborative research between American scientific clusters in the region and their French counterparts.

He said that the promotion of commercial and investment exchanges between France and the Southeast would be another important priority of his, especially now because French exports to the United States as a whole have dropped by 19 percent during the first six months of 2009.

He also said that he was concerned because France’s trade deficit with the U.S. has tripled during the past year.

“I will also promote France to potential American investors,” he added. “This is all the more necessary because French stock investment in the U.S. is double the amount of American investment in France.”

In addition, he said that the consulate would continue to develop cultural initiatives in the wake of the Louvre Atlanta project, a three-year partnership between the High Museum of Art and the Louvre museum. Carole Scipion recently joined the consulate as cultural attache.

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