France: For a fistful of dollars

3 min
Stéphane Colliac
Stéphane Colliac Senior Economist for France and Africa

The French export performance surprised on the upside in January 2019 despite growth concerns in Germany and China. Compared to a year ago, exports rose by +EUR2.5bn. It evidences that exports will again contribute visibly to economic growth in 2019 (+EUR14bn export gains are expected, after +18bn in 2018). In 2018, the strong export performance towards the U.S. (+4.4bn) and China (+2bn) added +0.2pp and +0.1pp to GDP growth, respectively. This story continued in January 2019, with +EUR0.8bn additional exports to each of these two markets. Transport equipment (mainly aeronautics) and chemicals (mainly pharmaceutical goods and cosmetics) are the main beneficiaries of this momen­tum. Meanwhile, France’s five top EU export destinations (Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium and the UK) generated only +EUR0.5bn export gains in January, reflecting the impact of the low growth momentum in core EU economies. Overall, the French external sector’s improving performance is summarized by a narrowing current account deficit (-EUR6bn expected in 2019, after -EUR17bn in 2018).