Horacio Aragones Forjaz

Executive Vice-President Embraer
What made Embraer choose France?
It’s linked to our company history. We launched Embraer Aviation International – our first company in France – in May 1983. We had just signed contracts with the French airforce and the French navy. (…) Our headquarters in France was initially intended to offer support for our products in Europe – and France in particular – and to house a marketing and sales team.

Originally our sales and marketing team, product support and warehouse were housed at Le Bourget. In 2006 we decided to move our facilities to Villepinte, close to Paris-CDG airport.   At that point we expanded our marketing and sales teams, which support our civil, executive and defense product lines. Our warehouse is now at the same location. Our old unit at Le Bourget has been refitted and now operates as a dedicated maintenance centre for our executive aircraft. I should also point out that our headquarters in France is responsible for Europe, the Middle East and Africa too. Our operations in all three of those territories are coordinated from France.
Having our regional headquarters in France does help our business. Being close to Paris-CDG airport gives us an effective hub to distribute spare parts throughout Europe and the Middle East. And it’s a location which enables us to transfer our workforce to different locations in Europe and in Africa, quickly and easily. France offers a combination of good infrastructure and good location.
Embraer has been in France since 1983. How would you sum up the experience?
It has been a very positive one. As I said before, we have a truly European distribution centre with excellent infrastructure and an extremely efficient hub at Paris-CDG. We have had excellent customers in France: Air France and its regional subsidiaries have been very important customers for Embraer. So all in all, it has been a very positive experience for almost 30 years now.
What changes have you noticed in France during that time?
There have been several significant and noticeable changes: the integration into the European Union, the acceptance of the Euro as a currency, the privatization of several key French companies. We now see a country which is more capital-orientated. We have also noticed that English is spoken much more freely today. Previously - I don’t know if it was a question of national pride or what – there was much more reluctance to speak English. But today, the use of English is widespread.

That makes a big difference, because English is the international business language. Wherever you go in the world, you naturally have to speak English. It’s worth mentioning that although we are based in Brazil, all our technical documents are produced in English because our aircraft are certified in different nations of the world and English is the international technical language.
Have any recent changes in French regulations made it easier for Embraer to do business here?
Yes, I would mention the improvement in immigration procedures, which are easier and more flexible today; new laws exonerating certain additional incomes; the changes to the local business tax which are underway; VAT credits paid on a monthly basis; and new openings for agreements in cases of personal dismissal. 
Is France a more attractive place to invest today than it was before?
France is certainly more attractive today than it was before. We see France as a more open country with a more diverse culture. So, yes indeed. 
What are the advantages of a French workforce?
Well, I think they are very well educated. There is a natural proximity between Brazilian and French culture. There are close historical ties between the two countries, so I think that most of our Brazilan employees who are posted in France find it an easy place to live. We have a good relationship with our French workforce.
French engineering is some of the best in the world. If they’re not the world leaders, they are certainly at the top tier.
Are there any fields in which you believe France is a world-leader?
Many. We see France as a leader in aviation, both in development and manufacturing. I think Airbus is a true measure of that, Dassault too. They’re both top international companies. High speed trains, of course. Nuclear power. Luxury goods. I think these are all good examples.
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