With a GDP of over € 2,000 billion, France is the sixth largest economy in the world and third in Europe after Germany and the United Kingdom. Although the government has started a partial or complete privatization since the 1980s, involving many companies (including Air France, France Telecom, Renault and Thales), the economic system provides for a massive presence of the state. The government controls key sectors: energy, public transport and defense industries. French leaders, adopting laws, fiscal policies and a welfare system that favors social equity, have almost always been inspired by a model of capitalism in which income inequality and the impact of the free market are reduced, especially in this area. of public health and well-being.
The primary sector represents less than 2% of GDP, but has a strong political relevance. France remains the largest agricultural producer in the EU, in a context in which the agricultural sector has drastically lost its centrality. The state has always exercised great influence in the definition of the common agricultural policy of the European Union (Cap) and has historically been the first beneficiary. In 2013, the Cap underwent a partial revision, with the aim, among others, of reducing the imbalance between payments to Western European countries and those to Eastern Europe. The nominal value of the loans allocated by the Capin any case, agriculture will not be reduced for the 2014-2020 programming period, settling around 360 trillion euros (about 38% of the total budget planned by the Eu for the next few years). News that partly met the French requests to keep existing subsidies intact. Precisely this need to support the Cap continues to make France, together with the rest of the Eu, object of criticism from the least developed countries, which denounce the distorting effects of the common agricultural policy on international markets. Given these implications, the scope of French and European development cooperation is greatly reduced. The tertiary sector is of considerable importance. With over 84 million foreign tourists a year, France is the most visited country in the world: tourism represents the third largest income item in the national economy.
From a commercial point of view, France is a leading player, as it is the sixth largest exporter in the world. However, the country has a large structural trade deficit. The weight of imports continues to outweigh that of exports due to the more competitive prices of imported goods compared to those produced domestically. In addition to this and despite the government’s efforts to foster innovation, French exports still have relatively low added value. However, the second quarter of 2015 recorded a surplus in the trade balance for the first time since 2007, partly due to the good performance of exports and, on the other hand, to the decrease in the cost of oil, of which France is an importer.
France’s main trading partner is Germany and among the most exported products in the world are Airbus aircraft, motor vehicles, military equipment and pharmaceuticals. Although it maintains its commercial relations mainly within the European Union, Paris is also cultivating its own business ground in the Asian region, in an attempt to halt the decline in trade data. The trade balance with Asia has indeed improved, and France has a surplus with Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Sales to Japan also increased, as did exports to India. After officially announcing the renunciation of the purchase of 126 Rafale aircraft, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a visit to Paris declared the Indian government’s intention to purchase 36 fighter aircraft: a possible eight billion dollar deal for the French firm Dassault Aviation. Important prospects for French exports are also emerging in China,Use. During the visit to France of Chinese President Xi Jinping in April 2014, for example, negotiations worth 18 billion euros were entered into, which include the transfer of 1,000 civilian helicopters over the next few years.
The desire to increase bilateral relations with Asian countries could on the one hand improve the economic situation of the country, but on the other hand it risks damaging the line always supported by Paris on the need to adopt a single approach at EU level with respect to trade policies. and investment.
Energy and environment
According to CALCULATORINC, the energy industry represents 2.1% of the added value, 25% of industrial investments and 2.8% of total investments. The French energy landscape has traditionally been dominated by the nuclear industry, which has 19 power plants and a total of 58 active reactors. Transalpine electronuclear production is second only to that of the United States and provides 75% of the electricity produced in France, as well as 47% of the French energy mix. Nuclear production also makes France the EU ‘s top electricity exporter, for an annual value of over 3 billion euros. Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom are its major partners. At the same time, France remains an importer of hydrocarbons, especially oil (about 1.7 million barrels per day), mostly from the countries of the former Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia and Norway.
France is also heavily dependent on the supply of natural gas, mainly imported from Norway, Russia, the Netherlands and Algeria. Despite the potential, the internal production of gas from unconventional fields is currently blocked due to concerns about the environmental impact. The French energy market is only partially liberalized, as evidenced by the calls of the European Union and the International Energy Agency (Iea), and still dominated by national champions (EDF, Gdf Suez) under state control.
Although almost half of the energy demand is met by oil, the level of CO 2 emissions per capita deriving from the use of electricity has decreased, thanks to the development of nuclear and hydroelectric energy (equal to 2.1% of the mix energeticnational), traditionally the main French renewable source, which exploits the mountain reservoirs of the Alps and the Pyrenees. However, France recorded a notable decline in the global environmental performance index, from sixth place in 2012 to 27th in 2014. Between 2009 and 2010 the government launched an ambitious environmental program, called ‘Grenelle de l’environnement ‘, adopting some laws aimed at increasing energy savings and the percentage of renewable energy.