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Published on November 29, 2007

France is the world’s sixth largest economic power in terms of GDP. The country’s assets are varied and include its transport and telecommunication sectors, its agrifood and pharmaceutical industries, along with banking, insurance, tourism and the traditional luxury products (leather goods, ready-to-wear fashion, perfumes, fine wines and spirits, etc.).

In 2006 France had a deficit in our foreign trade of €25.8 billion ; it is the world’s fifth largest exporter of goods (mainly durables) and ranks third in services and agriculture (grain and agrifood in particular). It is the leading producer and exporter of farm products in Europe.

France conducts 66% of its trade with its European Union partners (50% within the euro area). .

France ranks second worldwide for direct inward investment. Foreign investors appreciate the skills of French workers, the advanced level of research, the mastery of high technology, the stable currency and control of production costs.

- Gross Domestic Product - GDP (2006): €1,744.2 billion
- GDP Growth (2006): 2% (volume)
- Inflation (2006): 1.6%
- Trade deficit (2006): €25.8 billion


- Agricultural holdings: 545.000
- Agricultural labor force: 1,100,000
- Utilized agricultural area: 27,470.000 hectares, 50.3% of the area of metropolitan France.

Principal agricultural products in France

- • Grain: France is ranked first in the EU, 5th worldwide (48.5 million metric tons, including 34.8 million metric tons of soft wheat and 13.7 million metric tons of grain maize)
- Wine: Second worldwide and in the EU after Italy (53.2 million hectoliters).
- Milk: Second in the EU, after Germany, and 5th worldwide (22.6 million liters).
- Sugar beet: First in the EU and worldwide : 26.1 million metric tons.
- Oilseeds: 1st in the EU (5.7 million metrictons).

Livestock herds

- Cattle: 18.3 million
- Pigs :14.4 million
- Sheep: 7.9 million
- Goats: 1,2 million

Meat production

- Beef: 1.8 million metric tons in carcass, weight equivalent (cwe)
- Pork: 2.3 million metric tons (cwe)
- Sheep/goat: 1.4 million metric tons (cwe)
- Poultry: 1.9 million metric tons (cwe)
- Forests

Woods and forests cover some 16.3 million hectares, 30% of France’s total area, placing France third among the EU countries in terms of forest area.

Forest area in France has increased by 46% since 1945 and continues to grow by about 74,000 hectares each year. Most trees are deciduous (two thirds), while the remaining third consists of conifers.

The National Forestry Office (Office national des Forêts - ONF) is responsible for managing national forests (1,760.000 hectares) as well as those belonging to local authorities (1,810.000 hectares).

The remaining 11,700.000 hectares belong to some 3,5 million private owners. Forests in France are a source of biological and scenic wealth, a place for excursions and relaxation; they also yield an annual harvest of 53 million cubic meters of timber.

Tey also make an irreplaceable contribution to rural development by supplying the raw material for a number of industries which provide numerous jobs.

And lastly, forest land contrivutes to the efforts to combat climate change by storing atmospheric carbon. The extra carbon stored annually by French forests is estmated at 10 million metric tons.


- Energy independance : 49,8%
- Primary energy consumption: : 275.3 million metric tons oil equivalent (TOE)
- Main companies in the sector: TOTAL, EDF, GDF
- Workforce : 230 000
- Net electricity production: 575 billion kWh of which 78.6% comes from nuclear power
- Energy bill: &euros;46 billion

Breakdown of primary energy consumption
- 33.4% Oil
- 42.7% Electricity
- 14.7% Gas
- 4,5% Coal
- 4,8% Thermal renewable energies


Leading industrial sectors in France


- Annual net sales: &euros;139.7 billion
- Workforce: 390 000
- Leading sectors: meat and dairy production, grain, confectionery, soft and alcoholic beverages. Leading exporter and second largest producer in the EU.
- Trade surplus: €6.3 billion
- Number of firms: 3,180
- Main groups: Danone, Nestlé France, Lactalis, Pernod-Ricard, Altadis and Bongrain.

Construction and civil engineering

- Annual turnover: €137 billion
- Workforce: 1,597,000
- Three French groups (Bouygues, Vinci and Eiffage) rank among the top European construction firms.

Automotive Industry

- Annual net sales: €109 billion Workforce: 320,000 France is the world’s fourth largest exporter of cars and, in 2005, had a surplus on its trade in this sector of €8.6 billion. PSA (Peugeot-Citroën) and Renault are the two main groups in the sector. 5,955,600 millions vehicles were produced in 2005.


- Annual turnover : &euros;96.6 billion
- Workforce : 231,400
- Main companies: Rhodia, Hutchinson, Air Liquide

Fashion and Luxury Goods

- Annual net sales: &euros;28.8 billion
- Workforce : 182,134.000
- This sector includes haute couture, jewelry, luxury leather goods, perfumes, cosmetics and fine glassware.
- The main groups and brands are : L’Oréal, Yves Saint-Laurent, groupe LVMH, Chanel, Hermès , Lancel, Cartier, Baccarat, Lalique, Van Cleef and Arpels.


- Annual net sales: &euros;40.6 billion
- Workforce : 100,000
- World’s first largest producer and third largest exporter
- Main companies : Pierre Fabre, Aventis, Sanofi-Synthélabo, Pierre Fabre, Servier, Fournier
- Automotive Industry

Annual net sales: &euros;109 billion
Workforce : 320,000
France is the world’s fourth largest exporter of cars and, in 2005, had a surplus on its trade in this sector of €8.6 billion.
PSA (Peugeot-Citroën) and Renault are the two main groups in the sector. 5,955,600 millions vehicles were produced in 2005.
Material Processing

(steel, aluminium, glass, plastics, rubber)

- Annual net sales: €65.1 billion
- Workforce:362,000
- Among the main firms are the Arcelor-Mittal (steel processing), and Saint-Gobain, the world’s largest producer and second largest exporter of glass; Plastic Omnium and Sommier Allibert are the two French leaders in plastics processing and Michelin is the world’s leading tyre manufacturer.

Telecommunication and Information

- Annual net sales: &euros;45 billion
- Installed base: 38.2 million lines
- France Telecom has 48.2% of the market, Cegetel-SFR 34.2% and Bouygues Telecom 17.6%.
- There has been a sharp rise in the number of mobile phones with 52 million subscribers in May 2007.
- In the telecommunications sector, Alcatel is the fourth largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, and the world leader in transmission system and submarine cable networks.
- Digital television is represented by Thompson Multimedia, which produces digital television decoders. In 2006, e-commerce generated net sales of €9 billion.


- Annual net sales: &euros;32.1 billion (2006)
- Workforce: 132.000
- Main Firms : EADS (Airbus, Eurocopter, Astrium, MBDA,...), Dassault Aviation, Snecma, Arianespace

The internet showcase for French industry and technology:

Research and Development

National R & D expenditure amounts to €37.99 billion i.e. 2.26% of GDP, the fourth highest in the OECD.

The public sector finances 52.5% of R & D and is responsible for running the major national research facilities (building maintenance, salaries and laboratory equipment)which include the CNRS (all fields), INSERM (medicine), INRA (agronomy), etc.

Research financed by private enterprise (47.5%) focuses on advanced technology sectors such as aerospace, pharmaceuticals, car manufacture, communications equipment and precision instrument. France ranks fourth among OECD countries for research, after Japan, the United States and Germany.


- Road Network

Densest in the world and longest in the EU with a total of 893 300 km of local, secondary and main roads and motorways (10,300km: second in Europe)
While 76% of freight is carried by road, use of combined transport is sharply increasing.

- Rail Network

On January, 1 2007 (SNCF), 30,990 km of track. France holds the world speed record (574,8 km/h in June 2007) with its high-speed train (TGV), which runs on 1,550 kilometres (5% of the total rail network) of special track allowing trains in normal commercial operation to travel at 320 km/h.
Annual traffic: 329 million passengers on the main network, 94 million on the TGV network, 572 million on the Ile-de-France regional network and 133.8 million tonnes of freight.

- Aviation

Each year over 118 million passengers and 5.8 billion tons kilometers of freight are carried. Some one thousand aircraft (planes and helicopters) fly under the French flag.
- Paris airports:
764,000 annual commercial aircraft movements (2006), 82,8 million passengers (sixth in the world) and 2.1 million tons of freight and mail(2006, DGAC).

- Merchant Fleet

Annually 212 ships (total tonnage of 4.7 million) transport 340 million tons of freight.
France’s fleet ranks 28th in the world in tonnage.
Marseille is the largest port in France and on the Mediterranean, and the fourth largest in Europe, handling 95.5 million tons of goods. .

Service Sector

- Financial services and banking

In 2000 Euronext merged and replaced stock exchanges of Paris, Amsterdam and Bruxelles. In 2002, it bought out LIFFE (London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange)and merged with Portuguese bank BVLP (Bolsa de Valores de Lisboa e Porto).

NYSE Euronext, the holding company created by the combination of NYSE Group, Inc. and Euronext N.V., was launched on April 4, 2007. NYSE Euronext (NYSE/New York and Euronext/Paris: NYX) operates the world’s largest and most liquid exchange group and offers the most diverse array of financial products and services.

With a leading $28.5trillion / €21.5 trillion total market capitalization of listed companies and average daily trading value of its combined markets of approximately $102 billion / €77 billion (as of February 28, 2007), NYSE Euronext seeks to provide the highest standards of market quality and integrity.

The leading French banks are BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale, Crédit Lyonnais and LCL.

- Insurance

The French insurance sector has consolidated its position as the fifth largest in the world, with net sales of € 267.6 billion in 2005.

Axa, Europe’s second largest insurance company, CNP and AGF are the three main French insurance companies. Life and health policies are continuing to expand (+16.1%). Property-casualty insurance (including third-party liability) is growing by 2.2%. The insurance sector provides some 200,000 jobs.

- Tourism

With 76 million foreign tourists in 2005, France is the most visited country in the world.

France has.

- 18,884 hotels
- 8,138 camping sites,
- 914 holiday villages,
- 177 youth hostels,
- 1,389 Tourist residences
- 34,848 chambres d’hôtes (bed and breakfast).

France’s tourism sales in 2004 totaled €66 million. France’s income from tourism (€66 billion) is the third largest in the world, after the United States and Spain. The trade surplus in this sector is over €8.9 billion.

For further information

French Government Tourist Office
French Foreign Trade Center (CFCE)

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