4th Issue

Interview with Mr. Hervé de Charette

Interview with Mr. Hervé de Charette, President of the Franco-Arab Chamber of Commerce in Paris

as we are covering the economic ties between France and the Middle East, Middle East Business News & Magazine was honoured to meet with Mr Hervé de Charette, President of Franco-Arab Chamber of Commerce on a recent visit to France. Amongst other issues our Editor-in-Chief, Amal Daraghmeh Masri, discussed the main activities of the chamber and its role in developing the business relationship between France, the Middle East and other Arab countries.

What is the mission of the Franco-Arab Chamber of Commerce (CCFA)?

Hervé de Charette: “The Franco-Arab Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to facilitate, encourage and support the development of trade in many areas: trade, tourism, industry sectors, finance and banking, and many others, between France and the whole of the twenty-two member states of the Arab League, including Palestine.

How is the Franco-Arab Chamber of Commerce structured?

Hervé de Charette: We are organised on a “parity” basis. In our organisation, 50% of our members are representatives of French companies, the other half consisting of representatives of national chambers of commerce of the twenty-two countries in the Arab League. This is very important to us – in line with our statute, the Secretary General is an Arab (at present this is Dr. Saleh Al-Tayar from Saudi Arabia), and the President is French – that’s me!

Members of the Arab League:

Algeria, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Comoros islands, Djibouti, Arab Republic of Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Sultanate of Oman, Kingdom of Morocco, Mauritania, Palestine, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.

What sort of activities does the Chamber organise?

Hervé de Charette: Our activities are set annually by our main bodies: our board of directors and our annual general meeting. They are of several kinds of activities:

1. We organise delegations where French companies can explore member countries of the Arab League. In the countries taking part in exchanges, we arrange business-to-business meetings. It takes a lot of effort to convince small and medium French companies to spend time away from their business to visit and try to obtain new contacts and trading partners in the Arab countries.

2. We also have hospitality events in France where we host delegations from Arab countries. For example, today we received a delegation from Sharjah (Sharjah is one of the emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The emirate covers 2,600 km² and has a population of over 800,000 (2008)). All delegates were extremely competent and it was led by the daughter of the Governor of Sharjah. We made sure that twenty French companies met with the delegation to talk about possibilities for trade and development.

3. Our third activity is on the more intellectual level – we study the major economic and social problems within the Arab world so that we can provide up-to-date information about our partners’ countries for the benefit of all members.

Profile:   Hervé de Charette (born 30 July 1938 in Paris) is a French centrist politician.

Member of the Union for French Democracy (UDF), he was elected deputy for the first time in 1986 representing the Maine-et-Loire département. Between 1986 and 1988 he served as Minister of Civil Service, and from 1993 to 1995 as Minister of Housing. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs until the defeat of the President in the 1997 legislative election.

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