France is the world’s sixth largest economic power in terms of GDP. The country’s assets are varied and include its transport and telecommunications 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.).

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Deux générations de TGV,
en Gare de Lyon (Paris)
© F. de La Mure/MAE

France is the world’s fifth largest exporter of goods (mainly durables) and rank fourth in services and rank third in agriculture (cereals and agrifood in particular). It is the leading producer and exporter of farm products in Europe.

France does 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 (2011): €1,996 billion
- GDP growth (2011): 1,7%
- Inflation (2012): 2%
- Trade deficit (2011): €69.59 billion


- Agricultural holdings: 500,000
- Agricultural labour force: 550,000
- Utilized agricultural area: 29,000, 000 hectares, 54% of the area of metropolitan France.

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Culture de la canne à sucre
(Ile de la Réunion)
© F. de La Mure / M.A.E.

Principal agricultural products in France
- Cereals: 1st in the EU, 5th worldwide (70 million metric tons in 2009, including 35 million metric tons of soft wheat and 15 million metric tons of grain maize)
- Wine: 2nd worldwide and in the EU after Italy (53.2 million hectolitres in 2005)
- Milk: 2nd in the EU, after Germany, and 5th worldwide (22.9 billion litres in 2009)
- Sugar beet: 1st in the EU, 1st worldwide (33 million metric tons in 2008)

Livestock herds (2008)
- Cattle: 18.3 million
- Pigs: 14.4 million
- Sheep: 7.9 million
- Goats: 1.2 million

Meat production (2008)
- Beef: 1.8 million metric tons in carcass weight equivalent (cwe)
- Pork: 2.3m metric tons cwe
- Sheep/goat: 1.4m metric tons cwe
- Poultry: 1.9m metric tons cwe


Wooded areas cover some 15 million hectares, 29% of France’s total area, placing France third in the EU countries in terms of forest land.

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 (1,750,000 hectares) and those belonging to local authorities (2,700,000 hectares).

The remaining 10,600,000 hectares belong to some 3,500,000 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 metres of timber. They 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 contributes to the efforts to combat climate change by storing atmospheric carbon. The extra carbon stored annually by French forests is estimated at 10 million metric tons.


- Energy independence: 49,8%
- Primary energy consumption: 275,3 million metric ton oil equivalent (TOE)
- Main companies in this sector: TOTAL, EDF, GDF.

- Net electricity production: 575 billion kWh, of which 78.6% is nuclear-generated

- Energy bill: €46 billion (2006)


Leading industrial sectors in France

- Construction and civil engineering

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

- Agrifood

Annual net sales: €139.7 billion
Workforce: 390,000
Leading sectors: meat and dairy production, cereals, confectionery, soft and alcoholic beverages. Leading exporter and second largest producer in the EU.
Trade surplus: €6,3 billion
Number of firms: 3180
Main groups: Danone, Nestlé France, Lactalis, Pernod-Ricard, Altadis and Bongrain.

- Chemicals

Annual net sales: €96.6 billion
Workforce: 231,400.
Main firms: Air Liquide, Rhodia, Hutchinson.

- Fashion and luxury goods

This sector includes haute couture, jewellery, luxury leather goods, perfumes, cosmetics and fine glassware.
Annual net sales: €35 billion
Main groups: LVMH, PPR/Gucci group, Chanel, Hermès.
Workforce: 150 000.

- Pharmaceuticals

Annual net sales: €40.6 billion
Workforce: 100,000.
World’s first largest producer and third largest exporter.
Main firms: Sanofi-Synthélabo, Pierre Fabre, Servier and Aventis.

- Automotive industry

Annual net sales: €109 billion
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-Citroen) and Renault are the two main groups in the sector.
5,955,600 vehicles were produced in 2005.
Workforce: 320,000.

- Materials processing (steel, aluminium, glass, plastics, rubber)

Annual net sales: €65,1 billion
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.

- Telecommunications and information and communication technology

Annual net sales: €45 billion
Installed base: 38.2 million lines.
France Telecom has 47% of the market, Cegetel-SFR 35,8% and Bouygues Telecom 17.2%.
There has been a sharp rise in the number of mobile phones, with 52 million subscribers in March 2007.

In the telecommunications sector, Alcatel is the fourth largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, and the world leader in transmission systems and submarine cable networks.

Digital television is represented by Thomson Multimédias, which produces digital television decoders.

In 2006 e-commerce generated net sales of €9 billion.

- Aerospace

Annual net sales (2006): €32.1 billion
Workforce: 132,000.
Main firms: EADS (Airbus, Eurocopter, Astrium, MBDA, ...), Dassault Aviation, Snecma, Arianespace.

- 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 this 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 instruments.

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 1,079,072 km of local, secondary and main roads and motorways, including 10,492 km of motorways (second in Europe).

In 2006, while 80% of freight is carried by road, use of combined transport is sharply increasing.

- Rail network

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Deux générations de TGV,
en Gare de Lyon (Paris)
© F. de La Mure/MAE

France had 31,000 kilometres of track on 1 January 2006. France holds the world speed record (574.8 kph) with its high-speed train (TGV), which runs on 1,876 kilometres of special track allowing trains in normal commercial operation to travel at 270 kph or more.

Annual traffic: 329 million passengers on the main network, 83 million on the TGV network, 572 million on the Île-de-France regional network and 121 million metric tons of freight (2006).

- Aviation

Each year almost 160 million passengers and 4.8 billion tonne-kilometres of freight are carried. 904 aircraft (planes and helicopters) fly under the French flag.

Paris airports (ADP):
- 764,000 annual commercial aircraft movements (2006),
- 82.8 million passengers and 2.1 million metric tons of freight and mail (2006)(Rank 1st in EU).

- Merchant fleet

Annually 212 ships (total tonnage of 4.7 million) transport 340 million metric tons of freight. France’s fleet ranks 28th in the world in tonnage. Marseilles is the largest port in France and on the Mediterranean, and the fourth largest in Europe, handling 95.5 million metric 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 €198,4 billion. 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 2006, France is the most visited country in the world.

France has :

- 18,284 hotels
- 8,138 camping sites
- 914 holiday villages
- 177 youth hostels
- 69,700 gîtes (self-catering holiday facilities)
- 34,848 chambres d’hôtes (bed and breakfast).

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.

- Foreign trade

France is the world’s second largest exporter of services and farm products and fourth largest exporter of goods (principally durables).

The 2006 trade deficit stood at €25.8 billion. French exports, which totalled €481.2 billion in 2006. Imports amounted to €507.0 billion.

France’s main customers are Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and the United States.

Dernière modification : 21/03/2013

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