France’s Top 10 Exports

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France shipped US$568.4 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar metric reflects an 8.6% increase from 2017 to 2018 compared to a 0.8% improvement over the 5-year period starting in 2014.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, France’s exported goods plus services represent 30.9% of total French economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, 64.7% of French exports by value are delivered to fellow European countries while 17.6% are sold to Asian importers. France ships another 9.3% to North America with another 5.1% worth of French goods arriving in Africa. Smaller percentages went to Latin America (1.9%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and to Oceania (0.9%) led by Australia.

Given France’s population of 67.4 million people (including its five overseas regions), its total $568.4 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $8,400 for every resident in the Asian country.

France’s unemployment rate was 9.1% as of September 2018 compared to 9.7% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.

France’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in French global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from France.

At the more detailed Harmonized Tariff System code level, France’s most valuable exported products are large airplanes followed by therapeutic or prophylactic drugs and medicines then motor cars.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$67.7 billion (11.9% of total exports)
  2. Vehicles: $56.5 billion (9.9%)
  3. Aircraft, spacecraft: $51.8 billion (9.1%)
  4. Electrical machinery, equipment: $44.9 billion (7.9%)
  5. Pharmaceuticals: $33.8 billion (6%)
  6. Plastics, plastic articles: $22.6 billion (4%)
  7. Perfumes, cosmetics: $19.7 billion (3.5%)
  8. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $19.4 billion (3.4%)
  9. Mineral fuels including oil: $18.7 billion (3.3%)
  10. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $16.9 billion (3%)

France’s top 10 export categories accounted for over three-fifths (61.9%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Among the 10 largest product categories, mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing via its 27.5% uptick from 2017 to 2018.

In second place was the machinery including computers category up by 11.3%. Exports under the perfumes and cosmetics category rose by 10.9% year over year, trailed by vehicles’ 10.7% appreciation.

Aircraft and spacecraft was France’s slowest-growing top export category thanks to its 0.7% uptick from 2017 to 2018.

Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of France’s Most Valuable Export Products further down below.

Advantages

The following types of French product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Aircraft, spacecraft: US$30.8 billion (Up by 11.7% since 2017)
  2. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $14.6 billion (Up by 5.1%)
  3. Perfumes, cosmetics: $13.4 billion (Up by 12.4%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: $8.6 billion (Up by 4.1%)
  5. Cereals: $6.3 billion (Up by 39%)
  6. Other chemical goods: $3.7 billion (Up by 19.9%)
  7. Leather/animal gut articles: $3.5 billion (Up by 26.1%)
  8. Ships, boats: $2.7 billion (Up by 123%)
  9. Dairy, eggs, honey: $2.5 billion (Down by -7.2%)
  10. Iron, steel: $2.4 billion (Up by 0.8%)

France has highly positive net exports in the international trade of aerospace products. In turn, these cashflows indicate France’s strong competitive advantages under the aircraft and spacecraft product category.

Opportunities

France incurred an estimated trade deficit equal to -$90.5 billion during 2018, up 0.8% from its -$89.7 negative trade balance during 2017.

Below are exports from France that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country France’s goods trail French importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$55 billion (Up by 22.2% since 2017)
  2. Vehicles: -$17.4 billion (Up by 21.1%)
  3. Machinery including computers: -$16 billion (Down by -27.1%)
  4. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$13.3 billion (Up by 1.4%)
  5. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: -$7.8 billion (Up by 11.5%)
  6. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$6.4 billion (Up by 5.6%)
  7. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$5.9 billion (Up by 2.4%)
  8. Organic chemicals: -$4.4 billion (Down by -9%)
  9. Footwear: -$4.2 billion (Down by -0.3%)
  10. Fruits, nuts: -$4.2 billion (Up by 10%)

France has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related resources, particularly crude and refined oils, petroleum gases and coal.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate France’s competitive disadvantages in the international fuel market, but also represent key opportunities for France to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations especially in alternative energy sources.

Companies

French Export Companies

France placed roughly 70 companies in the Forbes Global 2000 rankings. The following companies are examples of world-leading French companies:

  • Total (oil, gas)
  • Sanofi (pharmaceuticals)
  • EADS (aerospace)
  • Christian Dior (clothing, accessories)
  • Schneider Electric (electrical equipment)
  • Danone (food processing)
  • Renault (cars, trucks)
  • Saint-Gobain (construction materials)
  • Air Liquide (specialized chemicals)
  • Safran (aerospace)
  • Michelin Group (automotive parts)
  • Pernod Ricard (beverages)

Global trade intelligence firm Zepol lists the following smaller French exporters:

  • Transityre France (latex, transmission belts, vehicle tires)
  • Hesnault (wines, jams, cheese)
  • Mane Fils (aromatic materials)


 

France’s capital city is Paris.

Searchable List of France’s Most Valuable Export Products

At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, France’s top export products are aircraft or spacecraft followed by drugs and medicines, cars then automotive parts or accessories.

The following searchable table displays 200 of the most in-demand goods shipped from France during 2018. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2017.

RankFrance's Export Product2018 Value (US$)Change
1Aircraft, spacecraft$43.5 billion-1.3%
2Medication mixes in dosage$25.5 billion+4.1%
3Cars$25.2 billion+13.7%
4Turbo-jets$16.2 billion+29.8%
5Automobile parts/accessories$15.7 billion+1%
6Wine $11 billion+7.3%
7Processed petroleum oils$10.6 billion+21%
8Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$9.6 billion+11.9%
9Trucks$8.4 billion+15.4%
10Aircraft parts$8.3 billion+12.7%
11Cases, handbags, wallets$7.7 billion+16%
12Integrated circuits/microassemblies$7.7 billion+14.8%
13Blood fractions (including antisera)$6.5 billion+19.3%
14Jewelry$5.8 billion+15.6%
15Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$5.3 billion+6.3%
16Perfumes, toilet waters$5.3 billion+10.4%
17Phone system devices including smartphones$5.2 billion+4%
18Lower-voltage switches, fuses$4.8 billion+7.2%
19Electrical energy$4.2 billion+51.3%
20Wheat$4.1 billion+37.9%
21Tractors$4 billion+21.6%
22Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$3.7 billion+3%
23Cheese, curd$3.7 billion+6.2%
24Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)$3.2 billion+15.6%
25Engines (diesel)$3 billion-21.3%
26Miscellaneous plastic items$3 billion+9.6%
27Petroleum gases$2.9 billion+24.2%
28Rubber tires (new)$2.8 billion+8.2%
29Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$2.7 billion+4%
30Taps, valves, similar appliances$2.7 billion+3.5%
31Orthopedic appliances$2.7 billion+7.1%
32Liquid pumps and elevators$2.6 billion+3.8%
33Insulated wire/cable$2.6 billion+8.3%
34Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$2.6 billion+4.6%
35Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$2.6 billion+0.4%
36Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$2.5 billion+7.9%
37Computers, optical readers$2.5 billion+8.9%
38Cruise/cargo ships, barges$2.4 billion+180.4%
39Scents used for beverage or industrial manufacturing$2.4 billion+9.1%
40Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$2.4 billion+10.7%
41Anti-knock/oxidation/gum inhibitors$2.4 billion+4.9%
42Iron or steel scrap$2.4 billion+16.2%
43Flat-rolled other alloy steel products$2.3 billion+2.4%
44Air or vacuum pumps$2.3 billion+4%
45Piston engine parts$2.2 billion+1.2%
46Ethylene polymers$2.2 billion-8.8%
47Piston engines$2.1 billion+59.3%
48Machinery parts$2.1 billion+7.5%
49Miscellaneous iron or steel items$2.1 billion+18.5%
50Footwear (leather)$2.1 billion+10.5%
51Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$2 billion+7.2%
52Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$2 billion+0.9%
53Chemical industry products/residuals$2 billion+7.9%
54Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$2 billion+7.2%
55Ball, roller bearings$2 billion+14.4%
56Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$2 billion+6.1%
57Aluminum plates, sheets, strips$1.9 billion+13.1%
58Other organic cleaning preparations$1.9 billion+14.7%
59Propylene/olefin polymers$1.9 billion+3.7%
60Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)$1.9 billion+16.4%
61Other food preparations$1.8 billion+1.9%
62Live bovine cattle$1.8 billion+6.1%
63Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$1.7 billion+12.4%
64Corn$1.7 billion+16%
65Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$1.6 billion+9.9%
66Refrigerators, freezers$1.6 billion+2.7%
67Miscellaneous machinery$1.6 billion+6.6%
68Electrical converters/power units$1.6 billion+2.1%
69Regulate/control instruments$1.6 billion-1.4%
70Electric motors, generators$1.5 billion+4.6%
71Electric water heaters, hair dryers$1.5 billion+5.3%
72Unrecorded sound media$1.5 billion+8.6%
73Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$1.5 billion+2.8%
74Heterocyclics, nucleic acids$1.5 billion+4.6%
75X-ray equipment$1.4 billion-4.4%
76Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$1.4 billion-1.1%
77Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$1.4 billion-0.3%
78Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$1.4 billion+2.2%
79Sugar (cane or beet)$1.4 billion+2.7%
80Acrylic polymers$1.4 billion+10%
81Physical/chemical analysis tools$1.4 billion+14.4%
82Temperature-change machines$1.4 billion+16.7%
83Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)$1.4 billion+20.8%
84Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters$1.4 billion-1.3%
85Miscellaneous furniture$1.4 billion+5.5%
86Other diagnostic/lab reagents$1.3 billion+7.2%
87Fork-lift trucks$1.3 billion+17.8%
88Barley$1.3 billion+32.1%
89Vulcanized rubber items$1.3 billion+8.7%
90Printing machinery$1.3 billion+9.1%
91Computer parts, accessories$1.3 billion+26.7%
92Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$1.2 billion+24.9%
93Flat-rolled stainless steel items$1.2 billion+11.8%
94Footwear (textile)$1.2 billion+34.2%
95Electric ignition/start equipment$1.2 billion+7%
96Lifting/loading machinery$1.2 billion+4.3%
97Coffee$1.2 billion+9.5%
98Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels$1.2 billion+4.4%
99Liquid/gas checking instruments$1.1 billion+11.9%
100Gold (unwrought)$1.1 billion-7.4%
101Wrist/pocket watches (precious metal case)$1.1 billion+2.4%
102Other measuring/testing machines$1.1 billion+7.9%
103Harvest/threshing machinery$1.1 billion+7.1%
104T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)$1.1 billion+13.5%
105Fresh or chilled beef$1.1 billion+7.5%
106Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps$1 billion+7.9%
107Wrist/pocket watches (no precious metal case)$1 billion-1.7%
108Copper waste, scrap$1 billion+1.8%
109Radar, radio communication items$1 billion-2.1%
110Poultry meat$1 billion+5.2%
111Cellulose fiber paper$998.4 million+9.6%
112Vinyl chloride polymers$982.3 million-2.7%
113Mineral, aerated waters$979 million+5.5%
114Hair preparations$977.7 million+14.8%
115Electric storage batteries$977.6 million+11.7%
116Rubber/plastic article making machines$976.4 million-0.1%
117Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$968.5 million+6.6%
118Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$964.3 million+2%
119Uncoated paper$931.2 million+8.3%
120Lubricants, cutting-oil preparations$912.3 million+5.7%
121Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs$893.9 million+6.3%
122 Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines $891.7 million+2.8%
123Swine meat$891.5 million-4.3%
124Styrene polymers$875.9 million+4.7%
125Tracksuits, swimwear (not knit or crochet)$856.3 million-0.4%
126Non-alcoholic drinks (not water/juice/milk)$838.9 million+7.5%
127Sports equipment$834.8 million+14.6%
128Bottles, flasks, jars, pots$828.6 million+11.6%
129Miscellaneous aluminum items$828.4 million+5.1%
130Hand-drawn paintings, drawings$828.3 million-0.7%
131Iron or steel tubes, pipes$816 million+10.2%
132Miscellaneous engines, motors$800.5 million+35.3%
133Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$783.5 million+12.1%
134Personal toilet/shaving preparations, deodorants$775.2 million+5%
135Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$771.3 million-11.9%
136Polyamides$770.3 million+11.3%
137Not concentrated/unsweetened milk, cream$765.7 million+1.6%
138Self-adhesive plastic in rolls$758.6 million+13.9%
139Radioactive chemical elements$753 million-16.5%
140Women's clothing (knit or crochet)$751.7 million+9.1%
141Glassware$750.8 million+5.3%
142Copper wire$739.1 million+9%
143Coated paper$736.1 million+2.1%
144Rape/colza seeds$728.5 million-0.3%
145Paint/varnish non-aqueous solution$724.9 million+7.4%
146Printed books, brochures$722.5 million+5.2%
147Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys$718 million-2.7%
148Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)$712.4 million+11.6%
149Navigational aids, compasses$687.9 million-6.5%
150Trailers$671.8 million+3.4%
151Paper containers, cellulose wadding$671.8 million+10.4%
152TV/radio/radar device parts$671.7 million-12.8%
153Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$655.1 million+19.4%
154Sowing seeds, fruits, spores$646.8 million-5.7%
155Ethyl alcohol$646.3 million+10.5%
156Filament/discharge lamps$645.7 million-2.7%
157Potatoes$642 million+7.6%
158Footwear (rubber or plastic)$641.7 million+15.8%
159Synthetic rubber$633.7 million-6.2%
160Leather clothing, accessories$629.1 million+22%
161Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods$619 million+25%
162Glass fibers$615.9 million+2%
163Butter, other milk fats/oils$614.6 million+5.6%
164Buttermilk, yogurt$613.3 million+4.4%
165Print/write/draw inks$611.9 million-5.4%
166Air conditioners$611.2 million+7.9%
167Biodiesel$611.1 million+72.3%
168Women's coats, jackets (not knit or crochet)$605.7 million+21.9%
169Tissues, napkins, toilet paper$604.3 million+7.4%
170Aluminum waste, scrap$590.7 million+9%
171Miscellaneous meat (preserved/prepared)$589.6 million+8.7%
172Apples, pears (fresh)$584.5 million-4.2%
173Aluminum (unwrought)$582.6 million-15.6%
174Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers$582.1 million+16.5%
175Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished)$579.5 million+26.1%
176Ice cream, edible ice$576.1 million+17.7%
177Uncoated paper for writing/printing$569.2 million+2%
178Microphones/headphones/amps$567.3 million+15.2%
179Railway/tram locomotives, rolling stock$564.3 million+22.8%
180Industrial preparation machinery$561.5 million-3.5%
181Interchangeable hand/machine tools$552.4 million+21.6%
182Base metal mountings, fittings$542.1 million+11.1%
183Soil preparation machinery$541 million+10.2%
184Petroleum resins$530.1 million+6.7%
185Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)$529.9 million+12.2%
186Shawls, scarves$528.8 million+21.8%
187Coated/laminated non-wovens$527.7 million+9.2%
188Stone/other mineral substance items$524.7 million+10.3%
189Whey$523.3 million-8%
190Essential oils$522.1 million+10.8%
191Casks, barrels, vats, tubs$509.5 million+4.7%
192Motorcycles$508.9 million+11.4%
193Ethers$505.6 million+7.1%
194TV receivers/monitors/projectors$500.7 million-12.4%
195Public-transport vehicles$498.8 million+41.3%
196Imitation jewelry$495.7 million+13.8%
197Other machine parts, accessories$495.1 million+2.2%
198TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$491.5 million+4.1%
199Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods$489.7 million+12.5%
200Other prepared/preserved vegetables (non-frozen)$489.7 million+6%

These 200 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$453 billion or about four-fifths (79.7%) by value for all products exported from France during 2018.

See also France’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, France’s Top 10 Imports and France’s Top Trading Partners

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 8, 2019

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 8, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on February 8, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 8, 2019

Wikipedia, List of Companies of France. Accessed on February 8, 2019

Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on February 8, 2019