French imports totaled US$659 billion in 2018, down by -0.1% since 2014 but up by 7.5% from 2017 to 2018.
French imports represent 3.7% of total global imports which totaled an estimated $17.778 trillion one year earlier during 2017 (as calculated on January 21, 2019).
From a continental perspective, almost two-thirds (63.8%) of France’s total imports by value in 2018 were purchased from fellow European countries. Asian trade partners supplied 21.1% of import purchases by France while 7.2% worth originated from North America. Smaller percentages came from Africa (4.7%), Latin America (1.3%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and Oceania (0.3%) led by Australia.
Given France’s population of 67.4 million people, its total $659 billion in 2018 imports translates to roughly $9,800 in yearly product demand from every person in the European nation.
France’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in France’s import purchases during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into France.
- Machinery including computers: US$83.7 billion (12.7% of total imports)
- Vehicles: $73.9 billion (11.2%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $73.7 billion (11.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $58.1 billion (8.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $26 billion (3.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $25.2 billion (3.8%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $21.1 billion (3.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $19.5 billion (3%)
- Organic chemicals: $16.3 billion (2.5%)
- Iron, steel: $13.9 billion (2.1%)
France’s top 10 imports accounted for nearly two-thirds (62.4%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Leading the increases among France’s top import categories from 2017 to 2018 were: mineral fuels including oil (up 23.5%), vehicles (up 13%), iron or steel (up 11.6%) then pharmaceuticals (up 9.1%).
Only one top product category declined in value, namely French imports of aircraft and spacecraft via its -12% drop year over year.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, France’s top imported goods are: cars (5.8% of France’s total imports), crude oil (4.3%), processed petroleum oils (3.7%), automobile parts or accessories (2.7%), petroleum gases (2.5%), aircraft parts (also 2.5%), medication mixes in dosage (2.3%), turbo-jets (also 2.3%), mobile phones (1.9%) then computers (1.4%).
In 2018, French importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery-related products including computers.
- Turbo-jets: US$15.3 billion (down -23.8% from 2017)
- Computers, optical readers: $9.6 billion (up 1.3%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $3.3 billion (up 7.9%)
- Machinery parts: $3.3 billion (up 25.8%)
- Printing machinery: $3.2 billion (up 1.7%)
- Piston engine parts: $2.9 billion (up 5.3%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $2.7 billion (up 8%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $2.6 billion (up 10.3%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $2.5 billion (up 3.5%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $2.2 billion (up 7.4%)
Among these import subcategories, French purchases of machinery parts (up 25.8%), centrifuges, filters and purifiers (up 10.3%) and air or vacuum pumps (up 8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
Turbo-jets was the sole declining category via its -23.8% setback.
These amounts and the percentages within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among French businesses and consumers.
In 2018, French importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$38.3 billion (up 9.9% from 2017)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $17.6 billion (up 15.8%)
- Trucks: $7.6 billion (up 18.7%)
- Tractors: $3.6 billion (up 24.9%)
- Motorcycles: $1.7 billion (up 11.7%)
- Trailers: $1.4 billion (up 15.4%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $1.1 billion (up 7.8%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $832.4 million (up 2.3%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $535.5 million (up 22.4%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $490.7 million (up 15.6%)
Among these import subcategories, French purchases of tractors (up 24.9%), special purpose vehicles (up 22.4%) and trucks (up 18.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and percentages within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported vehicles among French businesses and consumers.
In 2018, French importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Crude oil: US$28.5 billion (up 19.4% from 2017)
- Processed petroleum oils: $24.3 billion (up 30.9%)
- Petroleum gases: $16.3 billion (up 28.9%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $2.1 billion (down -5.4%)
- Electrical energy: $883.8 million (down -32.6%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $800.4 million (up 57.5%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $339.6 million (up 54.6%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $221.8 million (up 45.3%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $118.8 million (up 3.8%)
- Peat: $89.8 million (up 6.9%)
Among these import subcategories, French purchases of petroleum oil residues (up 57.5%), high temperature distilled coal tar oils (up 54.6%) and coke or semi-coke (up 45.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported fossil fuels-related products among French businesses and consumers.
In 2018, French importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronics-related products.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$12.8 billion (down -1% from 2017)
- Insulated wire/cable: $4.7 billion (up 15.8%)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $4.1 billion (up 0.9%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $3.3 billion (up 4.9%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $3.1 billion (up 11%)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $2.7 billion (up 6.6%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $2.5 billion (up 7.8%)
- Electric storage batteries: $2.3 billion (up 22.1%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $2 billion (up 12.9%)
- Unrecorded sound media: $1.7 billion (up 0.7%)
Among these import subcategories, French purchases of electric storage batteries (up 22.1%), insulated wire or cable (up 15.8%) and electrical or optical circuit boards and panels (up 12.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and the percentages within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among French businesses and consumers.
See also France’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, France’s Top Trading Partners and France’s Top 10 Exports
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, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 8, 2019