France’s Top Trading Partners

France's Top Trading Partners

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Nicknamed “The Hexagon” (l’Hexagone en français) because of the country’s roughly six-sided shape, France is strategically located on the European continent. It borders Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy to the east, Andorra to the South and Spain to the west. England is almost due north across the English Channel from France.

France shipped US$488.8 billion worth of products around the globe in 2016. That figure represents roughly 3% of overall global exports estimated at $16.236 trillion in 2015.

From a continental perspective, 65.1% of France’s total exports by value in 2016 were delivered to other European trade partners.

Asian importers purchased 17% of French shipments while 8.9% worth arrived in North America countries.

At 5.8%, an even smaller portion of French exports were bought by African importers.

France’s Top Trading Partners

Top 15

Below is a list showcasing 15 of France’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most French shipments by dollar value during 2016. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total French exports.

  1. Germany: US$78.9 billion (16.1% of total French exports)
  2. Spain: $36.6 billion (7.5%)
  3. United States: $36.1 billion (7.4%)
  4. Italy: $35.7 billion (7.3%)
  5. United Kingdom: $34.8 billion (7.1%)
  6. Belgium: $33.2 billion (6.8%)
  7. Netherlands: $17.7 billion (3.6%)
  8. China: $17.7 billion (3.6%)
  9. Switzerland: $16.9 billion (3.5%)
  10. Poland: $9.1 billion (1.9%)
  11. Turkey: $7.7 billion (1.6%)
  12. Japan: $6.9 billion (1.4%)
  13. Singapore: $6.8 billion (1.4%)
  14. Hong Kong: $6 billion (1.2%)
  15. Algeria: $5.6 billion (1.2%)

Close to three-quarters (71.6%) of French exports in 2016 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.

Leading gains in import purchases from France belong to Hong Kong (up 81.1%), China (up 61.4%), United States (up 32.2%) and Poland (up 26.4%).

Declines ranged from a -1.6% slowdown for Spain to a -19.2% deceleration for Algeria over the 7-year period from 2009 to 2016.

Deficits

As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.

It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export countrydoesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.

In 2016, France incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:

  1. China: -US$33.3 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2016)
  2. Germany: -$15.7 billion
  3. Netherlands: -$7.9 billion
  4. Italy: -$6.3 billion
  5. France: -$5 billion
  6. Belgium: -$4.9 billion
  7. Ireland: -$4.2 billion
  8. United States: -$3.5 billion
  9. Japan: -$3.5 billion
  10. Vietnam: -$3.4 billion

Among France’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, French deficits with Vietnam (up 258%), Netherlands (up 109.9%) and Italy (up 69.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate France’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for France to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.

Surpluses

Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.

In 2016, France incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:

  1. United Kingdom: US$13.3 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2016)
  2. Hong Kong: $5.1 billion
  3. Singapore: $4.4 billion
  4. United Arab Emirates: $2.8 billion
  5. Algeria: $2.3 billion
  6. Brazil: $1.8 billion
  7. Qatar: $1.7 billion
  8. Greece: $1.6 billion
  9. Australia: $1.5 billion
  10. Mexico: $1.4 billion

Among France’s trading partners that cause the greatest positive trade balances, French surpluses with Hong Kong (up 82.5%), Singapore (up 68%) and United Kingdom (up 54.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.

These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate France’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for France to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.

Companies

French Companies Servicing Trading Partners

France placed 69 companies in the Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings. Below is a sample of the major French companies that Forbes included:

  • 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)


 
See also France’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, France’s Top 10 Imports and Highest Value French Import Products

Research Sources:
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 12, 2017

Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 12, 2017

Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on February 12, 2017

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 12, 2017

Wikopedia, List of Companies of France. Accessed on February 12, 2017