Industrial production dropped 1.4 percent in June. Investment firm Natixis says that without major reforms "factory employment continues to decline and the same goes for the overall sophistication of jobs."
Economists say France won't be able to attract industry until it solves its competitiveness problem: Labor costs are too high, red tape too restrictive, and it is too hard to convert a lab discovery into a profit.
Despite the skepticism that Monday's forecasts drew from opposition and businesses, Ayrault argued it was vital for France to aim high.
"France has been lagging in a globalized world and at times has doubted its future," he said in a televised address Monday. "If we don't have ambitious goals, we won't advance."
Medef, France's biggest business lobby, applauded the ambition but said the seminar fell short by failing to invite the private sector.
"Only private enterprise, entrepreneurs and their teams are able to return our country to a dynamic of growth and jobs," the group said in a statement.
The counterproposal? A seminar next week with projections to 2020.
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