Tuesday's visit to Oklahoma City was more than just a routine
get-acquainted trip for Pascal Maccioni, Southwest commercial
counsellor for France, though it was his first time here.
It was a trip that could mean business for Oklahoma City and
France, if the past is any kind of prologue.
That's because Maccioni and Michael T. Woelffer started a series
of business deals between French and Illinois firms when Woelffer was
director of the Illinois Department of Commerce. Maccioni was
commercial counsellor in Chicago at that time.
Now, Woelffer is director of economic and community development
for the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, and Maccioni is based in
Houston. The places have changed, but basically they like doing
business with each other.
"Mike is a good man to work with," said Maccioni. "He knows what
I'm looking for, so we don't have to spend a lot of time on small
"My first job is to identify Oklahoma firms and investors who are
capable and interested in international trade. Then, we try to get
them together with companies in France."
Maccioni, who is one of 10 French commercial counsellors in
America, is responsible for Texas, Louisiana and Kansas as well as
Oklahoma. He was here looking for three basic kinds of business:
- Markets for imported French products in Oklahoma.
- Joint ventures between Oklahoma and French companies to work
together on products marketed on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
- French investments in Oklahoma business and Oklahoma investors
for French business.
"In all cases," he said, "international trade works well only if
there are incentives for both sides. The day of one side dominating
the other is gone. We must have balance - an equilibrium of
Imported French products can help Oklahoma's economy by providing
more sources of supplies and new products for importers, distributors
and manufacturers, said Maccioni, thereby improving their business.
Even in the case of wine, French imports have helped business in
America, Maccioni pointed out.
"French wine helped Americans develop a taste for wine," he said.
"Now, more wine from California, Germany and Italy is sold in
America. So we helped the California wine business."
However, the French economy has grown far beyond its original base
of agriculture products (incuding wine) and agriculture equipment in
the last two or three decades.
"France is now easily one of five most powerful nations of the
world economically," said Maccioni. "Our leading industries are
aerospace and telecommunications, and not far behind are electronics
and data processing.
"Our high technology is primarily in computer software and
This has been achieved despite a late start for France in high
technology, and that is a good sign for Oklahoma, said Maccioni.
France has a well-educated work force that has adapted well to high
"Oklahoma is where France was a few years ago, when we were trying
to diversify," he said. "We did it, and so can Oklahoma. There are
no secrets. It's a matter of developing good products and marketing
"I feel there will be opportunities for small manufacturers in
Oklahoma to work out joint ventures with firms in France to help both
CMI Corp. of Oklahoma City already has a joint venture in France,
and Maccioni planned to visit with President Gabe Zablatnick,
president of Little Giant Pump Co. …