France’s Top 10 Exports

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France shipped US$522.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar metric represents a 6.9% increase from 2016 to 2017 but a -7.9% decline over the 5-year period starting in 2013.

From January to August 2018, exported goods from France were valued at $377.8 billion. This 8-month metric puts French exports on track for an annualized $566.8 billion estimated for all 2018.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, France’s exported goods plus services represent 30.3% of total French economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, 64.4% of French exports by value are delivered to other European countries while 18.2% are sold to Asian importers. France ships another 8.8% to North America with another 5.4% worth of French goods arriving in Africa.

Given France’s population of 67.1 million people (including its five overseas regions), its total $517.3 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $7,800 for every resident in that country.

France’s unemployment rate was 9.7% as of September 2017 compared to 9.9% 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 2017. France’s top 10 export categories accounted for over three-fifths (62%) of the overall value of its global shipments. 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$60.7 billion (11.6% of total exports)
  2. Aircraft, spacecraft: $51.6 billion (9.9%)
  3. Vehicles: $50.8 billion (9.7%)
  4. Electrical machinery, equipment: $41.8 billion (8%)
  5. Pharmaceuticals: $31.4 billion (6%)
  6. Plastics, plastic articles: $21.4 billion (4.1%)
  7. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $18.2 billion (3.5%)
  8. Perfumes, cosmetics: $17.8 billion (3.4%)
  9. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $15.9 billion (3%)
  10. Iron, steel: $14.9 billion (2.8%)

Among the 10 largest product categories, iron and steel was the fastest-growing via its 28.9% uptick from 2016 to 2017.

In second place was the perfumes and cosmetics category up by 14.2% year over year.

Exports under the vehicles category rose by 12%.

Aircraft and spacecraft was the sole top French export category to decline thanks to its -3.3% drop from 2016 to 2017.

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$27.1 billion (Up by 38.2% since 2016)
  2. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $13.9 billion (Up by 10.1%)
  3. Perfumes, cosmetics: $11.9 billion (Up by 18.2%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: $8.3 billion (Up by 2.7%)
  5. Cereals: $4.6 billion (Down by -12.6%)
  6. Other chemical goods: $3.1 billion (Up by 18.4%)
  7. Leather/animal gut articles: $2.8 billion (Up by 10.6%)
  8. Dairy, eggs, honey: $2.7 billion (Down by -13.3%)
  9. Iron, steel: $2.4 billion (Up by 38.6%)
  10. Live animals: $2.1 billion (Up by 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 -$88.8 billion during 2017, up 24% from its -$71.7 negative trade balance during 2016.

As of June 2018, France’s trade deficit stood at -$49.6 billion up 9.3% compared to the first 6 months of 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$44.9 billion (Up by 25.5% since 2016)
  2. Machinery including computers: -$21.1 billion (Up by 91.9%)
  3. Vehicles: -$14.3 billion (Up by 2.9%)
  4. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$13.1 billion (Up by 4.2%)
  5. Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: -$7 billion (Up by 9.4%)
  6. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$6.1 billion (Up by 2.5%)
  7. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$5.7 billion (Up by 2.9%)
  8. Organic chemicals: -$4.7 billion (Up by 11%)
  9. Footwear: -$4.2 billion (Up by 6.2%)
  10. Fish: -$4 billion (Up by 10.3%)

France has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related resources, particularly crude and refined oils, petroleum gas 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 2017. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2016.

RankFrench Export Product2017 Value (US$)Change
1Aircraft, spacecraft$44.2 billion-2.9%
2Medication mixes in dosage$24.4 billion+7.1%
3Cars$22.1 billion+20.4%
4Automobile parts/accessories$15.5 billion+5.2%
5Turbo-jets$12.5 billion+8.2%
6Wine $10.3 billion+13.1%
7Processed petroleum oils$8.8 billion+24.9%
8Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$8.6 billion+18.3%
9Aircraft parts$7.3 billion-3.2%
10Trucks$7.2 billion+13%
11Integrated circuits/microassemblies$6.7 billion-1%
12Cases, handbags, wallets$6.7 billion+12.7%
13Blood fractions (including antisera)$5.5 billion+0.1%
14Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$5 billion+9%
15Jewelry$5 billion+6.7%
16Phone system devices $5 billion+11.6%
17Perfumes, toilet waters$4.8 billion+13.8%
18Lower-voltage switches, fuses$4.5 billion+7.3%
19Engines (diesel)$3.8 billion-16.1%
20Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$3.5 billion+5.6%
21Cheese, curd$3.5 billion+5.2%
22Tractors$3.3 billion+0.1%
23Wheat$3 billion-11.2%
24Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)$2.8 billion+5.8%
25Electrical energy$2.8 billion+28.4%
26Miscellaneous plastic items$2.7 billion+10.3%
27Taps, valves, similar appliances$2.6 billion-0.5%
28Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$2.6 billion+47.2%
29Rubber tires (new)$2.5 billion+1.8%
30Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$2.5 billion-3.1%
31Orthopedic appliances$2.5 billion-4.4%
32Liquid pumps and elevators$2.5 billion+8.9%
33Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$2.5 billion+7.3%
34Insulated wire/cable$2.4 billion+17.2%
35Ethylene polymers$2.4 billion+7%
36Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$2.3 billion+6.6%
37Petroleum gases$2.3 billion+56.7%
38Computers, optical readers$2.3 billion+2.6%
39Anti-knock/oxidation/gum inhibitors$2.2 billion+7.2%
40Flat-rolled other alloy steel products$2.2 billion+25.5%
41Piston engine parts$2.2 billion+7.1%
42Air or vacuum pumps$2.2 billion+0.8%
43Scents used for beverage or industrial manufacturing$2.2 billion+8.4%
44Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$2.1 billion+7.6%
45Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$2 billion+22.6%
46Iron or steel scrap$2 billion+43.7%
47Machinery parts$2 billion+6.8%
48Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$1.9 billion+16.3%
49Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$1.9 billion+6.9%
50Chemical industry products/residuals$1.9 billion+15.7%
51Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$1.9 billion+6.1%
52Footwear (leather)$1.9 billion+11.3%
53Propylene/olefin polymers$1.8 billion+26.2%
54Miscellaneous iron or steel items$1.8 billion+16.2%
55Ball, roller bearings$1.8 billion+6.9%
56Other food preparations$1.7 billion+10.9%
57Aluminum plates, sheets, strips$1.7 billion+13.3%
58Live bovine cattle$1.7 billion+7.9%
59Other organic cleaning preparations$1.7 billion+3.4%
60Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)$1.6 billion+9.3%
61Regulate/control instruments$1.6 billion+3.9%
62Electrical converters/power units$1.6 billion+1.2%
63Refrigerators, freezers$1.5 billion+9.7%
64Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$1.5 billion+11.3%
65X-ray equipment$1.5 billion+7%
66Miscellaneous machinery$1.5 billion+8.6%
67Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$1.5 billion+13%
68Electric motors, generators$1.5 billion+5.5%
69Electric water heaters, hair dryers$1.4 billion+6.6%
70Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$1.4 billion+0.8%
71Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$1.4 billion+9.6%
72Corn$1.4 billion-12.3%
73Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$1.4 billion+8.1%
74Heterocyclics, nucleic acids$1.4 billion+6.1%
75Unrecorded sound media$1.4 billion+9.7%
76Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters$1.4 billion+16%
77Piston engines$1.4 billion+208.4%
78Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$1.4 billion+6.1%
79Sugar (cane or beet)$1.3 billion+26.2%
80Miscellaneous furniture$1.3 billion+4.8%
81Other diagnostic/lab reagents$1.3 billion+2.9%
82Acrylic polymers$1.2 billion+9.7%
83Gold (unwrought)$1.2 billion+23.6%
84Physical/chemical analysis tools$1.2 billion+4.3%
85Vulcanized rubber items$1.2 billion+8.6%
86Temperature-change machines$1.2 billion+3.6%
87Printing machinery$1.2 billion+7.1%
88Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)$1.1 billion+13.9%
89Fork-lift trucks$1.1 billion+11.7%
90Lifting/loading machinery$1.1 billion+7.2%
91Wrist/pocket watches (precious metal case)$1.1 billion+3.7%
92Electric ignition/start equipment$1.1 billion+5.9%
93Flat-rolled stainless steel items$1.1 billion+17%
94Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels$1.1 billion-3.1%
95Coffee$1.1 billion+43.6%
96Wrist/pocket watches (no precious metal case)$1.1 billion+2.8%
97Other measuring/testing machines$1.1 billion+8%
98Harvest/threshing machinery$1 billion+16%
99Radar, radio communication items$1 billion+47.4%
100Liquid/gas checking instruments$1 billion+3.8%
101Copper waste, scrap$1 billion+31.8%
102Vinyl chloride polymers$1 billion+12.8%
103Barley$1 billion-6.3%
104Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$998 million-8.5%
105Computer parts, accessories$994.7 million+46.6%
106Fresh or chilled beef$985.8 million+6.4%
107Rubber/plastic article making machines$975.1 million+12%
108Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps$967.2 million+48.2%
109Poultry meat$962 million+1.7%
110Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$933.2 million+9.6%
111Swine meat$932.9 million+6.2%
112T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)$932.8 million+6.8%
113Mineral, aerated waters$928.3 million+2.3%
114Footwear (textile)$912.1 million+11.2%
115Cellulose fiber paper$910.2 million+5.2%
116Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$906.9 million+12.8%
117Radioactive chemical elements$905.8 million-7.9%
118Electric storage batteries$878.6 million+14.4%
119Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$872.5 million+9%
120 Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines $868.8 million+6%
121Lubricant/cutting-oil preparations$863.7 million+5.2%
122Uncoated paper$861 million+16%
123Tracksuits, swimwear (not knit or crochet)$856.1 million-6%
124Cruise/cargo ships, barges$854.8 million-38.4%
125Hair preparations$851.8 million-2.6%
126Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs$841.8 million+4.2%
127Hand-drawn paintings, drawings$835.9 million-36%
128Styrene polymers$805.6 million+11.3%
129Miscellaneous aluminum items$785.8 million+3.2%
130Non-alcoholic drinks (not water/juice/milk)$780.1 million-1.8%
131TV/radio/radar device parts$765.7 million+6.1%
132Not concentrated/unsweetened milk, cream$755.3 million+7.9%
133Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys$744.9 million+5.9%
134Glass containers including bottles, jars, pots$742.1 million+7.6%
135Iron or steel tubes, pipes$738.5 million-12.8%
136Compasses, other navigational instruments$738.4 million-6.9%
137Personal toilet/shaving preparations, deodorants$735.8 million+9.7%
138Sports equipment$728.1 million+12.6%
139Rape/colza seeds$727.9 million+9.5%
140Coated paper, paperboard$720.1 million+1.8%
141Household glassware including decorations$713.7 million+5.1%
142Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$697.7 million+10.8%
143Polyamides$691.7 million+18.2%
144Women's clothing (knit or crochet)$688.7 million+9.2%
145Aluminum (unwrought)$688.6 million+22.8%
146Printed books, brochures$688.5 million+2%
147Sowing seeds, fruits, spores$685.1 million+5.7%
148Copper wire$676.4 million+21.8%
149Synthetic rubber$674.4 million+32.2%
150Paint/varnish non-aqueous solution$673.1 million+7.2%
151Self-adhesive plastic in rolls$667.2 million+10.4%
152Filament/discharge lamps$665.6 million+19.1%
153Trailers$647.3 million-1.3%
154Print/write/draw inks$645.5 million+1%
155Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)$637.6 million-1.7%
156Apples, pears (fresh)$608.9 million+0.3%
157Paper containers, cellulose wadding$608.8 million+4.8%
158Glass fibers$602.7 million+3.7%
159Miscellaneous engines, motors$595.3 million+41.4%
160Buttermilk, yogurt, curdled milk$586.1 million-2.8%
161Ethyl alcohol$585.9 million+4.1%
162Potatoes$584.6 million-2.8%
163Butter, other fats or oils derived from milk$583.6 million+36.3%
164Industrial preparation machinery$580.2 million-7.9%
165TV receivers/monitors/projectors$572.9 million+4.8%
166Whey$568.5 million+17%
167Tissues, napkins, toilet paper$563.7 million+3.3%
168Air conditioners$563.5 million-10.9%
169Uncoated paper for writing/printing$557.5 million-5.9%
170Footwear (rubber or plastic)$553.7 million+1.6%
171Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$549.9 million+5.5%
172Miscellaneous meat (preserved/prepared)$544.1 million+3%
173Aluminum waste, scrap$541.1 million+14.2%
174Leather clothing, accessories$516.2 million+5.9%
175Interchangeable hand/machine tools$515.4 million+10.7%
176Women's coats, jackets (not knit or crochet)$503.1 million+15.8%
177Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers$501.7 million-5.4%
178Unvulcanized compounded rubber$501.7 million+9.5%
179Petroleum resins$495.3 million+6.3%
180Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods$494.9 million-1%
181Microphones/headphones/amps$493.5 million+24.8%
182Agricultural/forestry machinery (soil cultivation)$488 million+17.3%
183Wood casks, barrels, vats, tubs$487.6 million+20.1%
184Base metal mountings, fittings$487.5 million+12.9%
185Ice cream, other edible ice$487 million+8.3%
186Other machine parts, accessories$484.4 million+6.3%
187Paper/paperboard waste, scrap$482 million+11.7%
188Cocoa butter, fat, oil$479.3 million+18.2%
189Coated/laminated non-wovens$477.8 million-2%
190Stone articles, or of other mineral substances$474.9 million+3.9%
191Machinery to make pulp, paper, paperboard$474.4 million+7.4%
192TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$474.4 million+8%
193Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances$472.3 million+8.1%
194Essential oils$471.4 million+18.8%
195Ethers$470.9 million+18.9%
196Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)$470.5 million+21.1%
197Other prepared/preserved vegetables (non-frozen)$461.5 million+6.3%
198Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished)$461.2 million+73.4%
199Railway/streetcar locomotives, rolling stock$460.9 million+17.2%
200Electric generating sets, converters$453.1 million-4.6%

These 200 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$416.4 billion or about four-fifths (79.6%) by value for all products exported from France during 2017.

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 August 31, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on August 31, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on August 31, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 31, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of France. Accessed on August 31, 2018

Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on August 31, 2018