Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, presented the foreign trade figures for 2017 on February 7.
These figures show that France - with goods exports increasing by 4.5% to €473.2 billion - adequately benefited from world trade momentum (+4.7%) by stabilizing its market shares. After a year in equilibrium, the balance of trade in services also improved, with a surplus of €5.4 billion, notably as a result of strong performances in the tourism sector.
However, this momentum was also accompanied by a significant increase in the trade deficit, which although falling short of the dismal 2011 deficit figure, was affected by the energy bill, which increased in 2017, accounting for 63% of our overall deficit, as well as by the momentum in the French domestic market driven by the upturn in household consumption and business investment which boosted our imports of goods.
Improving our export performance is one of the government’s policy objectives. The measures to lower labor costs (decreased social security contributions) as well as to reduce the cost of capital (reduced corporate tax rates, introduction of a tax on real estate assets and a single flat rate tax) will improve the competitiveness of our firms. Expanding the pool of export firms, which has now levelled off, is also a goal. The prime minister will shortly announce the government’s foreign trade strategy, which will focus on three areas: training, reform of business support services and export finance reform.