Olivier Becht, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade, Economic Attractiveness and French Nationals Abroad, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, today presented France’s 2022 foreign trade figures.
The year 2022 saw a degraded global context, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, persistent tensions in supply chains, runaway commodity prices, rising inflation and higher interest rates. These factors have led to a slow-down in global trade.
France’s global trade has suffered in this context, seeing a degradation of the current account balance, leading to a deficit of -€53.5 billion, after a surplus of €9 billion in 2021. In 2022, the surpluses in services (+€50 billion) and income (+31 billion) no longer offset the trade deficit in goods. The latter stands at -€164 billion, a degradation of €78 billion in one year, almost entirely (86%) due to energy imports.
The situation is similar for our main European partners: those which posted surpluses have seen them fall drastically, while those with deficits have seen them worsen.
In the Minister Delegate’s words, “France is paying a heavy price for the energy bill”.
In 2022, energy import prices increased by 2.1 times compared to the previous year, due to increased cost of energy supplies and the euro’s depreciation against the dollar. The energy bill has therefore more than doubled. Gas imports increased by 248% to €59 billion, while crude oil rose by 99% to €33 billion and petroleum products by 60% to €38 billion.
The Minister Delegate did however identify positive signs in the 2022 figures:
- The recovery of our trade in services sped up, producing a record surplus of €50 billion, following €36 billion in 2021, driven by tourism (+€14 billion) and the good performance of transport companies (+25 billion) and financial services (+€9 billion).
- Strong growth of goods trade in value, now above pre-COVID-19 levels (+18% for exports and +29% for imports compared to 2021);
- Agricultural products have posted one of the best performances (+37%)
- Automobile exports have recovered to practically (97%) 2019 levels;
- And France’s traditional export champions have all posted surpluses: aviation (+€23.5 billion); perfumes and cosmetics (€2 billion growth to +€15 billion); beverages (+€16 billion); and the pharmaceuticals sector (+3 billion).
Lastly, the Minister Delegate highlighted that the French economy has what it takes to get back on track:
- A strong tissue of more than 144,400 exporting companies in the third quarter of 2022.
- First place in Europe for foreign investment attractiveness in terms of project numbers for the third year running (1,222 projects identified, more than 50% of which in localities of less than 50,000 inhabitants).
- Reindustrialization at work for 5 years and boosted by the France 2030 plan, offering businesses new international opportunities. The balance of factory openings in France has been positive since 2021.
Olivier Becht said: “We have the means to improve our trade balance by winning the battle of our exporting SMEs, by maintaining the attractiveness of our economy and by building on its reindustrialization. These structural efforts are essential. Above and beyond merely strengthening our foreign trade, what is at stake is our growth, our global influence and our resilience. We need to help French companies resist the upheaval we are seeing.”