France: Ticket to ride

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

In March, French exports still grew the way they grew, putting Q1 export gains at +EUR6.3bn (compared to Q1 2018), with aeronautics (+2.1bn), chemicals (+1.7bn) and electronics (+0.7bn) being the Top3 growth sectors. The first driver was an abnormal increase by +1.8bn to the UK (jewelry grew by +0.5bn, car exports by +0.3bn) after precautionary purchases ahead of the 29 March initial Brexit deadline (eventually extended). We expect that French exports to the UK will moderate during the next months. China remained another key story in Q1, accounting for +1.4bn of exports gains (mainly aircrafts). In the Eurozone, exports towards Italy showed the strongest increase (+0.4bn, mostly driven by pharmaceuticals) as the country exited from recession in Q1 (+0.2% q/q GDP growth). Other key Eurozone export destinations began the year in slow motion. Germany is a case in point as French exports to the neighbor stagnated (car suppliers faced a - EUR150mn export decline). Overall, the performance achieved in Q1 gives traction to an expected +EUR14bn of French export gains in 2019 (+18bn in 2018).