The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted our reliance on imports for the consumption of basic goods, such as protective masks during a pandemic caused by a respiratory virus. This has led to a movement in favour of “industrial reshoring” which has so far found an echo in various parts of society, often transcending the usual political divides.
In this study, we show that reshoring, understood as the repatriation of industrial production formerly carried out on our territory, should however remain confined to very special cases, for compelling reasons and in the absence of more efficient alternatives such as storage, supply chain diversification or procurement at the European level. As a society, we could, for example, agree to subsidise redundant production lines for vital goods in crisis time, such as certain health equipment or medication. However, as a general rule, we would benefit above all from focusing not on reshoring old industries but on attracting and developing the industries of the future.
If there is one sector in which we are clearly lagging behind and are caught up in relationships of dependency that could prove problematic, it is undoubtedly that of digital technologies. Therefore, the awareness of the need to create more value and intellectual property on European soil by investing heavily in digital technologies and by training and attracting more talent in computer science and engineering is currently of the essence.
This study was written by Paul-Adrien Hyppolite, Corps des Mines engineer and graduate of the École normale supérieure.