ECO club: it is difficult for Monaco to increase economic influence even more when one has already achieved a record year in 2016. The Principality of Monaco takes up the challenge with its key economic players.
The numbers confirm it. 2016 was an excellent year economically in Monaco. Though it would be difficult to do better, the Principality will try to stay at this level of performance. Recently, the Eco Club united its economic forces around Jean Castellini, Government Councillor, Minister of Finance and Economy, at the residence of the Minister of State, to discuss the prospects for 2017.
The outcome of 2016
Jean Castellini: «In Monaco, we can measure the success of a year by several factors: the fiscal dimension, tourism which is one of the strongest aspects of our attractiveness, and the creation of companies. However you measure it, 2016 was a very good year. For the fifth consecutive year, we should close the fiscal year with a surplus. We have finished 2016 at a record level of revenue and the main contributors were tax revenues such as TWA, corporate tax and transfer taxes, all of which testify to our strength».
A significant number
Today, tax revenues relate to all government products. The progression was very strong. At all levels, 1,300 business-creating files were processed. That’s 5% more than last year. In terms of tourism, despite the tragic events of the summer, the Principality has done very well. Average household income reached a record level. The same goes for congressional activity.
What are prospects for 2017?
In the original budget for 2017, the level of revenue is 5 to 6% higher than that of the original 2016 budget.It is at a high level, but still reasonable and realistic. The current international climate is still uncertain and our ability to diversify our economy is essential.
«One of the projects that I am particularly interested in is the creation of a business incubator that the government is currently designing in partnership with Monaco Telecom. It will identify innovative companies and encourage them more. It is the Monaco of tomorrow that is being prepared by diversifying sources of revenue, beyond industry, tourism and real estate», – Jean Castellini shared.
An Association Agreement with the European Union is still in negotiation. This would give Monegasque companies access to the European internal market. This would redress some form of inconsistency. Today all products and services from the European Union are welcome in the Principality, but the reverse is not true.
«The aim is that our companies, whatever the field in which they work and I am thinking of high-tech, medical or pharmaceutical products can freely export their products to the heart of the European Union. The financial products and services sector is also included in this. We should allow our banks and fund managers to spread out more widely. If an agreement were to be reached, the barriers would be significantly reduced».
Accessibility to the Principality is a lever for development. But there is still a question: «Are the Nice airport and the port of Ventimiglia involved?». According to Jean Castellini: «Those are two strategic and developmental investments. One of the advantages we have in Monaco is to having an international airport 20 minutes away, even less by helicopter, which relies on business aviation. Monaco represents 10% of the total traffic and more than 20% of the business traffic. This excellent positioning is a benefit for Monaco. Like the new direct intercontinental connections. When you take a stake in a strategic asset, it is anticipated that it will develop, that there will be more passengers and more trade zones that will benefit us in return. This investment makes sense».
And on the Italian side?
The Port Hercules is not infinitely extendable. The Principality needs more anchorage for large boats and Ventimiglia will offer this opportunity. Initially, it will be necessary to complete the facilities and then improve the connections between Ventimiglia and the Principality. And offer services of a comparable level.
Monaco also has this last-kilometre problem… It is a barrier to its attractiveness. Alternative solutions must be developed. In railways, the challenge is to increase the frequency on the Cannes-Ventimiglia Line. The quays at Riquier in Nice will be involved. Then the question will arise of the acquisition of additional trains by the Principality in cooperation with the region. Employees and businesses will benefit.
Cable car issue
The one that is being designed is an urban cable car, which would leave from the park and ride with 1,800 spaces at the west entrance near the Exotic Garden, towards Fontvieille and probably later towards le Rocher. The downlink tunnel captured half of the traffic flow westward. The cable car amounts to the same idea, but with an ecological mode of transport. It is a win-win partnership between Monaco and the companies that use outside employees.
«We could not develop our businesses without these people. And without the economic dynamism of the country, these people might not likewise be offered jobs», Jean Castellini concludes.
«Working on quality» Axel Hoppenot, SBM
«At SBM, we continue to play our role of economic, artistic and tourist activities, being a magnet for individual customers and groups. We reinforce this role through a multitude of initiatives, in close connection with cultural and economic actors. We are very involved in yachting. These initiatives are aimed at bringing even more customers back here. 2017 will be a very active year, focussed on product and service innovation. We are working in this vein to make Monaco the most attractive deluxe experience in Europe, in terms of the hotel offer as well as the casino. We work on quality, with very strong action plans on reception and by carrying out background work on products. The complete reopening of the Hótel de Paris and the delivery of One MonteCarlo is anticipated for the end of 2018. The work is progressing according to schedule».
«Producing green energy» Thomas Battiglione, SMEG
«For Smeg, 2016 was a very intense year because the world of energy regulation in France has changed profoundly and it has been necessary to apply the new rules into the territory of Monaco. A benchmark of 40 European distributors showed the quality of our distribution network. With 6 minutes per year, we have the best indicator of average break time. This, in view of the building sites and the density of the town planning programmes, is a feat. 2016 was the first year of declining consumption despite economic development and increasing urbanisation. This can be welcomed even if it seems paradoxical for an energy supplier. It is the fruit of the work carried out with the teams of the Department of Awareness and Control of Energy. 2017 will be the year of realising our initiatives that have matured in 2016 with the government teams. We are going to start producing green electricity, in particular photovoltaic, in the Monegasque territory and in France. On the services side, we will develop the development of uses and knowledge of consumption».
«A very rich year» Michel Dotta, President of the Monaco Economic Board
«In 2016, the MEB registered growth of more than 10% in membership, around 500. The Minister of State has instructed us to coordinate and increase the effectiveness of the actions of public and parastatal entities abroad. Then we focussed on two main themes. At the end of June, we will pitch in Tel Aviv to encourage them to discover our incubator facilities. The MEB will also go to Kazakhstan, for the Astana Expo 2017, we will accompany the Prince on a mission to Slovakia in May and then to Moscow. As for investor prospecting, we are developing shares in the direction of London. We plan to meet family offices and authorities to encourage them to settle in the Principality. Actions on Geneva and Zurich are also planned. The MEB will travel in April with The Yacht Club and the BPC to the Singapore Yacht Show, the 1st in Asia. At the request of Chinese ambassador Catherine Fautrier, we will travel to China, especially as the Grimaldi Forum will be holding the Monaco exhibition at the Forbidden City: Princes and Princesses of Monaco from September to December. This should be a very good tool for promoting the Principality. Finally, this year the MEB will host many foreign delegations such as Montenegro, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Sweden».
«Developing our presence in business» Michel Prost Dumont, the People’s Bank of the Mediterranean (Banque Populaire Méditerranée)
«For the Banque Populaire Méditerranée, the year has begun with a merger that will bring us more equity and solvency. For our clients, it means more funding possibility and this will reflect on Monaco. 2016 has been excellent, the best since we established ourselves in the Principality. A year ago, we created our space dedicated to companies, which now has six employees and we want to develop strongly. This translates into more financing and international assistance to local businesses. For private individuals we offer tailor-made services, and we will have to work with the Automatic Exchange of Information (EAD). Since 1 January, banks have been forced to collect tax information on their clients. Explaining them will be my challenge».
«Creating a business incubator» Martin Peronnet, Monaco Telecom
«We achieved a record year 2016 with results that rose by almost 10%, notably on the activities undertaken. Among our top priorities for 2017 are the quality of the mobile network and the launch two months ago of a new TV-Internet-Telephone box. What is important for Monaco Telecom is the speed at which we are going to equip the devices. Our innovation policy also continues with our business activities, which represent more than two thirds of Monaco Telecom’s activity: our data centre has fallen considerably and the outlook for 2017 suggests a strong increase. We have just started a new project, which is that of the incubator in Fontvieille. It brings together the qualities of our two shareholders: the State of Monaco because it has a true industrial policy and a vision for the future for the Principality and Xavier Niel who is the leader of start-ups and this new economy in France. We will try to combine the medium and long term ambition of the Principality with the talent of Xavier Niel to energise the economy, to seek new companies. Our goal for 2017 will be to have created new successes here in Monaco. We will target about ten companies in the first year».
Sylvie Biancheri, Grimaldi Forum
«2016 was a record year for the Grimaldi Forum with a turnover of 17 M €, up almost 10%. It is 20% higher than the previous year and 572 M € of economic spin-offs for the Principality. For 2017, it’s about doing at least as well as last year. I am not sure that we can do better because 2016 represented only 10 days of total vacancy in our building. This gives an idea of the intensity of the activity that took place in 2016 at the Grimaldi Forum with a good optimisation between cultural events and professional events. The year started very well with, as of January, three major operations ̶ conferences of 1,700 people. For hotels, it’s fantastic. We have a very high customer loyalty rate: everything is going well for the Grimaldi Forum».
As we’ve seen, across all sectors Monaco had an excellent record economic year in 2016 and it’s clear 2017 holds many exciting plans to come.