The big worry used to be the relocation of jobs abroad. Now the talk is rather of "deindustrialization". The precise term matters little. The fact is that, throughout the West and especially in France, there are fears that China will become the world's factory and India will be its main provider of high-tech services, not to mention the role of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and, more generally, the rapidly developing nations increasingly competing with the old industrialized countries.
Michel Drancourt has been an astute commentator on the business scene for almost 50 years, he was formerly responsible for industrial redeployment in Lorraine (a region in eastern France suffering from industrial decline), and he also set up GERIS (Groupement économique de reconversion industrielle et de services, an agency to promote job creation in manufacturing and services) for the firm of Thomson. Here he reacts to a recent report by DATAR, La France, puissance industrielle [France as an Industrial Power] (Paris: La documentation Française, 2004), and argues that, as well as the growing competition faced by the countries of the Old World, firms are having to contend with other major pressures: first, the race to cut prices, partly in response to pressures from big retailers, which means that productivity is considered more important than job creation; secondly, technical change (in the broadest sense) and the more general need to be innovative, with regard to products, services and processes, which alone can create new markets.
With the help of many examples, the author describes the changes under way in modern economies and stresses that, in order to create wealth and jobs, it is essential to take advantage of expanding markets (whence the need to be part of them) and to develop new products and services.