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In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards

 

Foreign Trade in Figures

France is a major actor in global trade. It is the world's ninth exporter and seventh importer of merchandise (WTO), and trade represents 73% of its GDP (World Bank, latest data available). France exports essentially aircraft, pharmaceutical products, vehicles, food products (wine), turbines and beauty products; while it imports hydrocarbons, vehicles, pharmaceutical products and telephones (Comtrade). In 2022, energy import prices surged by 2.1 times compared to the prior year, attributed to heightened energy supply costs and the euro's depreciation against the dollar, resulting in a more than twofold increase in the energy bill. Gas imports soared by 248% to EUR 59 billion, crude oil jumped by 99% to EUR 33 billion, and petroleum products climbed by 60% to EUR 38 billion. As per exports, agricultural products have demonstrated one of the strongest performances with a 37% increase; while automobile exports have rebounded to nearly 97% of 2019 levels. Additionally, France's traditional export sectors have all recorded surpluses: aviation (+EUR 23.5 billion); perfumes and cosmetics (growing by EUR 2 billion to reach +EUR 15 billion); beverages (increasing by EUR 16 billion); and the pharmaceuticals sector (adding EUR 3 billion – data INSEE).

In terms of countries, the main exports destinations in 2022 were Germany (13.7%), Italy (9.2%), the United States (7.9%), Belgium (7.9%), Spain (7.6%), the United Kingdom (5.7%), and the Netherlands (4.2%), whereas imports came chiefly from Germany (13.7%), Italy (9.2%), the United States (7.9%), Belgium (7.9%), Spain (7.6%), and the United Kingdom (5.7% - data Comtrade).

France registers a strong structural trade deficit. Nevertheless, while the goods balance is structurally in deficit as the country is a net energy importer, the services balance is in surplus thanks to tourism revenues. According to WTO data, in 2022, France exported goods with a total value of USD 617.8 billion (+5.6% y-o-y), while it imported for USD 818.2 billion (+14.4% y-o-y). As for the services, France exported around USD 337.1 billion (+11.9% y-o-y), while imports stood at USD 285.8 billion (+10.6% y-o-y). The overall trade balance was estimated to be negative by 3.9% of GDP by the World Bank (from 1.9% one year earlier). According to the latest data published by INSEE, in the first semester of 2023, goods exports decreased slightly (-0.8% compared to the second half of 2022), while imports saw a more significant decline (-9.4%). Despite this, trade volumes increased notably, with goods and services exports rising by 2.6% in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the first quarter, while imports stabilized with a 0.4% increase. France's exchanges with the rest of the world improved, resulting in a EUR 30 billion reduction in the deficit of the current account for the first half of 2023 (to EUR -9.6 billion).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 654,658581,297715,082823,216785,884
Exports of Goods (million USD) 570,951488,637585,021620,461648,481
Imports of Services (million USD) 267,073227,198262,401288,910322,527
Exports of Services (million USD) 295,746246,122303,380343,547355,735

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO), Latest data available.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 64.464.156.960.872.1
Trade Balance (million USD) -60,734-52,800-65,669-79,447-144,267
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -32,201-24,198-46,837-38,447-89,630
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3.12.3-12.88.08.9
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4.51.6-16.88.87.0
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 32.732.529.431.438.1
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 31.731.627.529.434.0

Source: World Bank, Latest data available.

 
Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 1.52.33.53.63.4
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) -0.11.02.42.52.7

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook, Latest data available.

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2023
Germany 13.5%
Belgium 8.2%
Spain 7.5%
United States 7.1%
United Kingdom 6.0%
See More Countries 57.6%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2023
Germany 15.5%
Belgium 11.4%
Netherlands 8.8%
Spain 8.1%
China 5.8%
See More Countries 50.4%

Source: UN Comtrade Database, Latest data available.

 

Main Products

640.2 bn USD of products exported in 2023
Powered aircraft "e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes...Powered aircraft "e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes"; spacecraft, incl. satellites, and suborbital and spacecraft launch vehicles 4.7%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 4.1%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 3.9%
Turbojets, turbopropellers and other gas turbinesTurbojets, turbopropellers and other gas turbines 3.1%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles...Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 2.3%
See More Products 81.9%
777.1 bn USD of products imported in 2023
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 5.9%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 4.9%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 4.0%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 3.7%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles...Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 2.5%
See More Products 79.0%

Source: UN Comtrade Database, Latest data available.

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import export flows.

 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest data available.

 

Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Euro (EUR)
Exchange Rate Regime
Floating exchange regime.
Level of Currency Instability
Very limited exchange risk since the euro is a major currency.
Exchange Rate on :

 
 
Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
American Dollar (USD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 EUR 1.061.131.181.121.14

Source: World Bank, Latest data available.

 
 

Find out all the exchange rates daily on our service Currency converter.

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Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party to the International Coffee Agreement
International Economic Cooperation
France is a member of the following international economic organisations: ICC, European Union, WTO, European Economic Area, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, G-20, IMF, OECD, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates France click here. International organisation membership of France is also outlined here.
Free Trade Agreements
The complete and up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by France can be consulted here.
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets
Yes

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Party of the TIR Convention
Yes

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
Within the European Union, goods originating in the EU community can move freely and are exempt from customs formalities.

The documents which have to accompany the goods when they are delivered inside the EU community are the following:
-Bill of lading or airway bill
-Certificate of origin
- Commercial invoice
- Declaration of an antique

For a transaction outside the EU community, you have to add:
- Import licenses
- Certifications
- Single Administrative Document (SAD)
- Health certificate

To go further, check out our service Shipping documents.

Free-trade zones
France counts with one free-trade zone, located in the port of Bordeaux.
For Further Information
French Customs website
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Recovery
Non Tariff Barriers
At the European level, agricultural products are protected within the Common Agricultural Policy and textile products from China, Belarus, North Korea, Montenegro, Kosovo and Uzbekistan are subject to particular formalities and import licenses or control procedures (export document, monitoring document).
At the national level, trade in plants and seeds, aircraft and other goods has to be declared; they have to be certified respectively by the GNIS (the national interprofessional organization for seeds and plants), the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Agriculture. Among the non-tariff barriers are France's regulations and bureaucratic procedures, its complex safety standards and its testing and certification requirements.
Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
Agricultural products: cereals, bananas, poultry, appellations of geographical origin, garlic, salmon, sardines, sugar, wine, corn, coffee, melted cheese, rice.
Computer material, films and television programs, merchant vessels, civil aircraft, steel and cotton.
Assessment of Commercial Policy
The WTO pages devoted to France
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the United States

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Standards

National Standards Organisations
AFNOR, the French standardisation association
UTE, Technical Union of Electricity
ETSI, European Telecommunications Standards Institute
Integration in the International Standards Network
At the European level:
- CEN, European Committee for Standardisation
- CENELEC, European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation

At the international level:
- International Standards Organisation (ISO)
- International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
Obligation to Use Standards
Products are subject to the European Union's legislation (General product safety Directive, technical legislation) as well as to the national French legislation.
Conformity to standards is compulsory for products such as machines, tools, electrical appliances, sports equipment, toys etc. This list continues to grow. Goods which have complex technology or are potentially dangerous must submit to rigorous testing and approval procedures before they can be marketed in France.
Classification of Standards
NF is the national certification mark.
CE is the European certification mark. It is compulsory for a country to be able to sell on the market.
Assessment of the System of Standardization
French people are receptive to standards being observed; the NF mark or the ISO 9000 certification are well known to consumers and firms and they are appreciated for their guarantee of the quality and safety of products and services.
Online Consultation of Standards
AFNOR
The on-line catalog of European standards
The ISO catalog
The most important standardisation programmes (Website in French)
Certification Organisations
See the list of independent organisations which issue the NF mark with AFNOR accreditation.

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Latest update: July 2024

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