French exports
8 February 2016

Trade deficit falls in 2015 for fourth consecutive year

In 2015 the trade deficit decreased for a fourth consecutive year. Now standing at €45.7bn, the deficit has decreased by nearly €30bn since 2011, when it reached a record high of €74.5bn. More broadly speaking, France's trade deficit for goods and services has decreased to €9.4bn – its lowest in 10 years and a quarter of what it was in 2011. Overall, the balance of current transactions is expected to be virtually neutral for the first time in 8 years.

Content published under the Government Valls II from 2014 26th August to 2016 11th February
In 2015 the French trade deficit decreased once again to €45.7bn. This is the fourth consecutive year that it has dropped, having reached a record high of €74.5bn in 2011. It decreased by over 20% from 2014 to 2015.
More broadly speaking, France's trade deficit for goods and services decreased to €9.4bn in 2015 – its lowest in 10 years – down from a high point of €41bn in 2011. Overall, the balance of current transactions, including the balance of current revenue and transfers, "is expected to be virtually neutral for the first time in 8 years. This is a factor of the stability and external sustainability of our economy," Matthias Fekl pointed out.
These results notably reflect the rapid increase in exports, which outpaced global trade in 2015 – for the large part, the decrease in the trade deficit is due to fluctuations in energy prices and the value of the euro:
  • Exports of goods increased by 4.3% in 2015 (with exports of goods and services increasing by 4.5%), supported by aeronautical and automotive deliveries and sales of luxury products and capital goods. Take, for example, the following:
    • Airbus sales reached a 'new record' of €28.9bn, up from €25bn in 2014;
    • Car sales increased, especially to Spain and the United Kingdom;
    • Exports of agrifood products increased by 2.9% (from a decrease of 1.0%), driven by beverages, with exports of champagnes to Anglo-Saxon countries, cognac to the United States and wines and spirits to China.
  • By region, sales to EU countries increased by 2.2% in 2015. Exports to third countries (outside of the EU) surged by 7.4% compared to a 1.6% decrease in 2014.
"The export dynamic demonstrates the ability of French companies to remain competitive in an uncertain international context," Matthias Fekl declared.
The minister also pointed out that imports – which increased by 1.2%, compared to a 0.6% decrease in 2014 – "broadly reflect the recovery of the French economy". Imports from the EU have increased by 0.7%, whilst purchases from third countries have increased by 1.9%.
Furthermore, the number of companies exporting is at its highest since 2003, having significantly increased by 3.1% to 125,000 from 121,000 in 2014.

This dynamic has been propelled by the engagement of all stakeholders within the Strategic Export Council (CSE - Conseil stratégique de l’export) and at regional level.

Efforts to adapt and streamline support mechanisms for French exports will continue in 2016: 3,000 SMEs are set to benefit from the simplified export route by 2017; a one-stop shop for customs – 95% electronic – is now operational, and 9,500 of participants in Volunteering for International Experience (VIE) programmes will be in posts by the end of 2016 – an increase from 9,000 in 2015, with a target of 10,000 for 2017.

The customised support programme for 1,000 high-growth SMEs/ISEs, introduced by BpiFrance, Business France and Coface, surpassed its targets, providing support for 1,100 companies in 2015.

Finally, with the launch of the France-International portal on 15 February, companies will benefit from a unique entry point to facilitate their access to the help and support tools available.

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