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Economic Relations

Economic Relations

Last updated on February 23, 2016


The United States is the leading destination for French Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), ahead of Belgium. French FDI stock in the US stabilized at €162 billion at the end of 2012, slightly lower compared to the end of 2011.

After considerably strengthening their position in the United States in 2011, notably in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, French investors pulled out to some extent from the United States in 2012, mainly because of a withdrawal by French banks. However, at the end of 2012, France had become the 5th largest investor in stock in the United States, just ahead of Switzerland, Luxembourg and Germany.

According to the most recent survey carried out by INSEE on the presence of French companies abroad, there are 2,700 subsidiaries of French companies in the United States, employing more than 500,000 people. The most successful companies in the United States include Veolia, Safran, Airbus, Alstom, Suez Environnement and Keolis.

In the opposite direction, the United States is the 4th largest foreign investor in France with 12% of total FDI stock in France at the end of 2012 (€60 billion). American investment flows in France in 2012 remained lower than the average recorded since 2005, but have rebounded since 2011.

More than 1,200 American groups operate in France, employing more than 440,000 people, making the United States the largest foreign employer in France, ahead of Germany (AFII - Invest in France Agency).

Bilateral trade

In 2012, France’s trade deficit increased slightly to €6.3 billion (compared to €5.8 billion in 2011). Our trade with the United States declined despite the resumption of French exports to the United States and a more moderate increase in our imports of American goods (+12.3% compared with 16.2% in 2011).

Petroleum products alone account for half of the total deficit and the agri-food sector accounts for the main sectoral trade balance (€2.2 billion).

French exports to the United States increased in 2012 to €26.5 billion (+13% compared with 2011), propelled by certain industrial sectors.

Broken down by activity sector, as in previous years, transport equipment, mechanical equipment, electrical equipment, electronics, information technology, and chemical and pharmaceutical products make up the bulk of French exports to the United States (65%).

According to U.S. statistics, France’s share of the American market remained stable, with 1.8% of total American imports in 2012, dropping by one position in the ranking of US suppliers (9th position).

In 2012, French imports from the United States increased to €32.8 billion (+12.3%), encompassing, in descending order of importance, the following sectors: transport equipment, mechanical equipment, electrical equipment, electronics, information technology, chemical and pharmaceutical products, and, lastly, refined petroleum products and coke represent 72% of total French imports of American goods. There was a significant increase in imports of pharmaceutical products (+14%, €4.7 billion).


Economic and Trade Department, Embassy of France

French Treasury:

French Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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