Axel Baroux
Axel Baroux Image Credit: Supplied

Axel Baroux has been appointed as the new French Trade & Invest Commissioner to the United Arab Emirates and the Regional Director of Business France in the Middle East. In his new role, he will be heading the expansion of French companies in the Middle East through an export development strategy as well as implementing a new action plan for the upcoming years with regards to supporting middle eastern investors on their way to France.

To head the expansion of French commercial presence in the UAE & the Middle East, Baroux will be backed by a regional team of 60 experts dedicated to identifying and introduce high-end French solutions to the local market as well as promoting France as a top destination for foreign investments and leading customized support to regional investors willing to explore the French market.

Located in the regional headquarter of Business France Middle East based in Dubai, he will be covering 12 regions: GCC, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq, but also Jordan & Lebanon through local partners.

His nomination is timely as the business relations between regional stakeholders with France reached a peak both in exports and investments areas, highlighted by the recent strategic dialogues with the GCC countries and high-level official visits. Indeed, French economic relations are in full swing in the region, and Expo 2020 has been crucial in shaping this new momentum. During the first world Expo of the Arab world, Business France organized more than 28 events in France pavilion, supported more than 400 French companies through dedicated business expeditions, and could then pool & connect over 1600 economic players during their networking sessions.

This comes in addition to the strategic contracts signed between France and the UAE to cement ties in the defence sector for $19b. In Qatar, TotalEnergies has been selected to Partner with QatarEnergy on the Giant North Field East.

Axel Baroux, French Trade & Invest Commissioner & Managing Director of Business France Middle East, commented: “I am delighted to have been appointed to this key position of French economic diplomacy in a region with ever-increasing potential, and I look forward to working with our regional partners and the French authorities to promote French know-how and expertise in the Middle East in order to unlock growth opportunities for both French and regional investors looking to expand their operations. I truly believe that the business relationships between France and the Middle East will continue to flourish based on mutual interest. We are witnessing a strong French economic presence in leading sectors such as transport, energy, environment, food, and infrastructure. There is still room for improvement, and I am eager to explore new collaboration opportunities."

Business France Middle East wants to take business collaborations with the Middle East to new heights

In addition, the newly appointed French Trade commissioner highlighted critical achievements of Business France in the region that acted as a key enabler in fostering business relationships between French companies and regional stakeholders. As such, some success stories were outlined, such as an event organized in partnership with the UAE government's cybersecurity council where selected French companies had the opportunity to pitch their solutions before other UAE players and government entities and a French Tech Tour organized in the Middle East last year that led the quantum technology company Pasqal to team up with Saudi Aramco to develop quantum computing applications for the energy sector. Other business matching events are also happening in the construction, industry and the mobility sector, like the one with Etihad Rail aimed at connecting innovative SMEs with the ¨Passenger Rail Project” to bring new solutions in Data Management System, Cybersecurity, Interior Design….

The Middle East is a top market priority for France. Several large groups and SMEs have set up their regional headquarters in the UAE, especially in the free zones. France boasts a solid and diversified economic presence in the region in all the major sectors of the regional economy (aeronautics and space, civil and military, luxury goods, energy, sustainable development, urban transport, banking and insurance, hotels, retail, and industry). The UAE is home to a large number of French establishments in the Middle East with around 600 subsidiaries employing more than 30,000 people.

More than 20 years of industry experience in leading roles

Axel Baroux has dedicated his career for the development of French trade and economy at an international level where he successfully managed to transform business relations into long-lasting partnerships. He started his career at the Coface, the French Export Credit Agency (from 1990 to 1994) with the Department of long-term guarantees (contracts and investments). He then joined the Directorate of Foreign Economic Relations (now known as the Directorate General of Treasury) of the French Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Industry (from 1994 to 2004).

He also served at various senior level positions within the central administration of the ministry (Near and Middle East Desk) as well as with the ministry’s offices abroad (in Lebanon and Poland). In 2004, Axel joined Business France and served first as Managing Director of the agency’s Marseille branch office (from 2004 to 2008), and thereafter as a Country Manager in Turkey, Canada, South and Southern Africa.

By bringing more than 20 years of industry experience to the role, including expertise in public private partnerships, investment strategy and economic diplomacy, Axel Baroux will also be a key contributor to major events in France that will focus on the Middle East regions and unique sector-specific workshops, B2B meeting to accelerate export development strategy along with investments for the next few years.