November has been an active month for eBay Government Relations and Senior Management in France. As the year winds down we’ve been focused on educating key legislators about our business model and the contribution our customers make to the local economy. Through a variety of very productive meetings we have shared critical information to help keep our platform strong for our users in France.
The first and most visible of these activities was a meeting between eBay CEO Devin Wenig and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. The pair discussed eBay’s business in France, the eBay platform’s enablement of French small and medium business (SMB) exporting and our ongoing efforts to help digitalize more French SMBs. Devin took the opportunity to raise some of the regulatory challenges faced by French internet-enabled SMBs, including shipping barriers. The meeting ended on an extremely positive note with Prime Minister Philippe and Devin agreeing to work jointly on a list of topics focused on greater enablement of French SMBs, as well as a great follow-up tweet to Devin from the PM.
In addition to meetings with PM Philippe and other key French legislators, the eBay Executive Leadership Team also met with some of France’s biggest sellers of collectibles. The sellers had the opportunity to show the best of their inventory, highlighting the quality of items available to all 168 million eBay buyers globally. Devin and the ELT greatly enjoyed meeting these sellers and learning about their Internet-enabled small businesses.
In parallel to Devin’s visit to Paris, eBay’s General Manager of France Céline Saada-Benaben had the chance to meet with French Minister of Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi. Céline and the eBay GR team took this opportunity to share our latest Public Policy Lab report with him. Titled “Bridging Distance to Opportunity for French Small Businesses”, the report illustrates how online commerce platforms like eBay reduce the cost of doing business over distance and enables small business throughout France to expand their growth opportunities. For example, 99% of eBay professional sellers in France export and they reach an average of 23 countries per year.
Céline also shared some of the largest challenges faced by French eBay sellers with the Minister. This included a discussion of the issues caused by confusing VAT rules and the need for more transparency and standardization in the operations of the French postal system. The meeting ended with the Minister proposing a partnership with eBay in his future plan for the digital transformation of French SMBs. The plan will take the shape of an online platform where sellers can find educational content such as success stories, advice on digital solutions available to better grow their business, and a list of financial support endorsed by the authorities. eBay will soon attend a hearing by the Minister’s teams to take an active part in this program.
eBay would like to thank PM Philippe, Minister Mahjoubi and all of the French legislators who took time out of their busy schedules in November to discuss how best to support online-enabled French SMBs.