France’s merchandise trade deficit reached 65.5 billion euros in 2020, its worst performance in eight years. According to Eurostat, it is within the European Union that France has its heaviest deficits.
In 2020, France’s foreign trade deficit in goods widened by 7.3 billion euros to reach 65.5 billion euros. This is the highest deficit since 2012. Last year, French exports fell by 15.9%, while imports fell by only 13%.
The balance of sales of industrial manufacturing products deteriorated further by 22.3 billion, continuing in an accelerated fashion a trend observed for two decades. According to information from the Directorate of Customs and Indirect Duties, this decrease in exports, which is greater than that of purchases abroad, particularly affected the aeronautical and automotive sectors. Imports of protective masks alone accounted for 5.9 billion. Pandemic forces, exports and imports of pharmaceutical and medical products were the only ones to remain dynamic.
Despite the general deterioration, certain sectors of activity in France continue to generate trade surpluses. This is particularly the case for aeronautics and space; chemicals, perfumes and cosmetics; agrifood; and the pharmaceutical industry. On the other hand, France remains in deficit for capital goods, energy, textiles and automobiles.
In the 2021 edition of its annual report, the Treasury department specifies that, taking into account trade in services, which generated a surplus of 8.3 billion euros for France in 2020, and flows of Foreign direct investment (FDI), France’s foreign trade balance for 2020 shows a deficit of 53.2 billion, or 2.3% of gross domestic product.
Eurostat, which uses other accounting perimeters, gives for France in 2020 a merchandise trade deficit of 82.5 billion euros, close to the 85 billion euros confirmed by the customs department when accounting for freight costs and insurance (CAF / FAB method).
Stronger decline in foreign trade activity within the European Union
Eurostat underlines another characteristic of France’s merchandise trade: an enormous imbalance between trade within the EU, which is heavily in deficit for France (-107.6 billion) and its trade outside the EU which has presented in 2020, a surplus of 25.2 billion euros, it is in fact very much lower compared to 2019 (+ 35.8 billion).
Finally, Eurostat tells us that France is, within the European Union, the country whose foreign trade activity has fallen the most, at -16% against -10% in Italy and Spain and -9% in Germany. , while it grew in only one Member State, Ireland (+ 3%), one of the European champions of foreign trade in goods with a surplus of 71 billion euros in 2020, behind Germany (182.4 billion euros), but ahead of the Netherlands (+ 67.9 billion euros) and Italy (+63.6 billion euros).