That dollar metric suggests that the annualized export sales for France will be an estimated $598.4 billion for 2022, up about 5.3% year over year.
The remainder of this analysis will drill down on the latest published annual statistics for France during 2021.
Formally the French Republic, France shipped $568.3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2021. That dollar metric reflects a 19.4% increase from 2020 to 2021 compared to an 8.4% uptick in value since 2017.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the euro appreciated by 5% against the US dollar since 2017 and strengthened by 3.9% from 2020 to 2021. The stronger European Union currency in 2021 made France’s exports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers.
France’s 5 biggest export products by value in 2021 were medication mixes in dosage, aircraft including spacecraft and turbojets, cars, automotive parts or accessories, and wine. In aggregate, those major exports account for 19.9% of overall exports sales from France. The commodities themselves suggest a relatively diversified range of exported goods.
France places number one for exporting wine, ranks among world-leading nations for aircraft parts and is a major competitor for medications and other pharmaceutical shipments.
Geographic Insights about France’s Exports
The latest available country-specific data shows that 68.9% of products exported from France were bought by importers in: Germany (14.2% of the global total), Italy (8.1%), Belgium (7.7%), Spain (7.6%), United States of America (7.3%), United Kingdom (5.9%), mainland China (5%), Netherlands (4.1%), Switzerland (3.5%), Poland (2.5%), Turkey (1.5%) and Singapore (also 1.5%).
From a continental perspective, 66.8% of France exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 17% were sold to importers in Asia. France shipped another 8.7% worth of goods to North America.
Smaller percentages went to Africa (4.8%), Latin America (1.6%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and Oceania led by Australia (1%).
Given France’s population of 65.3 million people, its total $568.3 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $8,700 for every resident in the European Union member nation. That per-capita metric exceeds the average $7,300 one year earlier in 2020.
France’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in French global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from France.
- Machinery including computers: US$62.6 billion (11% of total exports)
- Vehicles: $50.8 billion (8.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $45 billion (7.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $39.1 billion (6.9%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $30.9 billion (5.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $25.5 billion (4.5%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $22.3 billion (3.9%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $22 billion (3.9%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $18.6 billion (3.3%)
- Iron, steel: $18 billion (3.2%)
France’s top 10 export categories accounted for 58.9% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 101.6% since 2020.
In second place for improving export sales were iron and steel, materials which gained 67%.
France’s shipments of plastics both as materials plus items made from plastic posted the third-fastest appreciation up by 32.3%.
The most modest increase among France’s top 10 export categories was pharmaceuticals thanks to its 2.9% advance.
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.
France’s Major Food Exports
Calculated based on the overall $568.3 billion worth of products shipped from France in 2021, food exports amounted to a subtotal $53.1 billion or 9.4% of France’s exported goods. In comparison, Canada’s international food shipments represent 12% of total products exported in 2021 while the food percentage is 3.4% for overall exports from the United Kingdom.
The value of France’s international food shipments grew by 17.4% compared to 2017. From 2020 to 2021, French exporters posted a 12.4% uptick in food-related revenues.
At 15.7% of its overall exports, France’s most valuable exported product category encompasses unprocessed foods, specifically cereals. France’s leading product group was propelled by significant international sales of wheat, corn and barley.
The second most valuable food category for shippers in France was dairy, eggs and honey, representing 15% of French international food sales. The dairy, eggs and honey product category is heavily influenced by France’s shipments of cheese, milk and cream, and butter.
In third place were exports under the processed food category cereal or milk preparations equaling 10.3% of France’s food exports by value.
The other leading product categories are meat (7.8% of France’s total exports) led by beef and pork, then miscellaneous food preparations (7.1%), oil seeds (5.1%) and vegetables (4.8%) led by potatoes and tomatoes.
Products Creating Trade Surpluses for France
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.
- Aircraft, spacecraft: US$19.6 billion (Up by 22% since 2020)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $17 billion (Up by 32.2%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $15.2 billion (Up by 27.3%)
- Cereals: $7.2 billion (Up by 7.5%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $6.8 billion (Up by 43%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $5.1 billion (Down by -44.3%)
- Other chemical goods: $3.3 billion (Down by -5.7%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $3 billion (Up by 3.3%)
- Iron, steel: $2.8 billion (Up by 152.5%)
- Live animals: $2.1 billion (Down by -1.3%)
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.
Products Causing Trade Deficits for France
France incurred an overall -$131.7 billion trade deficit in 2021, swelling by 41.3% from -$93.2 billion in red ink one year earlier in 2020.
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$52.2 billion (Up by 73.9% since 2020)
- Vehicles: -$25.1 billion (Up by 19%)
- Machinery including computers: -$21.6 billion (Up by 29.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$19.1 billion (Up by 28.8%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$9.7 billion (Up by 37.8%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$6.7 billion (Up by 19.3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$6.2 billion (Up by 75.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$6.1 billion (Up by 54.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$5.1 billion (Up by 10.6%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$5 billion (Down by -5.1%)
France has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related resources, particularly crude and refined oils, petroleum gases and coal.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate France’s competitive disadvantages in the international fuel market, but also represent key opportunities for France to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations especially in alternative energy sources.
France’s Major Export Companies
France placed roughly 70 companies in the Forbes Global 2000 rankings. The following companies are examples of world-leading French companies.
- Air Liquide (specialized chemicals)
- Christian Dior (clothing, accessories)
- Danone (food processing)
- EADS (aerospace)
- Michelin Group (automotive parts)
- Pernod Ricard (beverages)
- Renault (cars, trucks)
- Safran (aerospace)
- Saint-Gobain (construction materials)
- Sanofi (pharmaceuticals)
- Schneider Electric (electrical equipment)
- Total (oil, gas)
Global trade intelligence firm Zepol lists the following smaller French exporters. Selected examples are shown below.
- Hesnault (wines, jams, cheese)
- Mane Fils (aromatic materials)
- Transityre France (latex, transmission belts, vehicle tires)
Searchable List of France’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from France during 2021. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2020.
|Rank||France's Export Product||2021 Value (US$)||Change|
|1||Medication mixes in dosage||$27,088,968,000||-3.6%|
|7||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$10,764,596,000||+20.2%|
|8||Cases, handbags, wallets||$10,509,788,000||+27.9%|
|9||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$10,027,009,000||+23.8%|
|12||Processed petroleum oils||$7,190,007,000||+51.8%|
|14||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$6,080,654,000||+34.2%|
|15||Perfumes, toilet waters||$5,836,280,000||+40.1%|
|18||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$4,969,833,000||+15.9%|
|23||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$3,678,909,000||+5.9%|
|24||Phone devices including smartphones||$3,466,688,000||+3.4%|
|25||Heterocyclics, nucleic acids||$3,452,591,000||+136.7%|
|26||Miscellaneous plastic items||$3,420,237,000||+21.4%|
|27||Miscellaneous animal feed preparations||$3,383,156,000||+20.4%|
|28||Iron or steel scrap||$3,340,627,000||+88.1%|
|29||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$3,063,769,000||+12.9%|
|30||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$2,960,717,000||+21.2%|
|33||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$2,784,055,000||+22.6%|
|34||Scents used for beverage or industrial manufacturing||$2,783,144,000||+17.6%|
|35||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$2,754,934,000||+11.7%|
|36||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$2,682,415,000||+74.8%|
|37||Rubber tires (new)||$2,638,236,000||+17.4%|
|38||Computers, optical readers||$2,611,973,000||+5.6%|
|39||Liquid pumps and elevators||$2,604,305,000||+12.6%|
|40||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$2,577,795,000||+67%|
|42||Chemical industry products/residuals||$2,350,449,000||+32.4%|
|44||Air or vacuum pumps||$2,300,275,000||+8.8%|
|45||Flat-rolled other alloy steel products||$2,286,960,000||+57.1%|
|50||Other organic cleaning preparations||$2,089,361,000||+7.2%|
|52||Other food preparations||$2,061,692,000||+17.1%|
|53||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$2,032,149,000||+17.7%|
|54||Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations||$2,014,380,000||+5.2%|
|55||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$1,999,460,000||+17.4%|
|56||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$1,983,832,000||+16.1%|
|57||Aluminum plates, sheets, strips||$1,963,290,000||+40.9%|
|59||Vinyl chloride polymers||$1,928,477,000||+127.9%|
|60||Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)||$1,889,071,000||+22.3%|
|61||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$1,800,045,000||+7.6%|
|62||Piston engine parts||$1,768,882,000||+9.5%|
|63||Ball, roller bearings||$1,757,849,000||+17.9%|
|64||Electric motors, generators||$1,747,861,000||+22.5%|
|66||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$1,707,435,000||+15.9%|
|67||Other diagnostic/lab reagents||$1,687,905,000||+18.2%|
|69||Live bovine cattle||$1,680,921,000||+2.3%|
|71||Copper waste, scrap||$1,662,588,000||+84.2%|
|72||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$1,661,157,000||+35.2%|
|73||Electrical converters/power units||$1,657,542,000||+12.4%|
|75||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$1,571,043,000||+19.3%|
|79||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$1,498,093,000||+22.9%|
|81||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$1,470,474,000||+12.4%|
|82||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$1,466,738,000||+7.4%|
|83||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$1,462,452,000||+11.4%|
|85||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$1,432,842,000||+9.8%|
|88||Unrecorded sound media||$1,354,019,000||+11.3%|
|89||Electric ignition/start equipment||$1,346,372,000||+12.4%|
|91||Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels||$1,344,596,000||+15.4%|
|92||Electric storage batteries||$1,344,050,000||+8.2%|
|95||Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream||$1,287,728,000||+17%|
|96||Other measuring/testing machines||$1,285,195,000||+26.4%|
|98||Vulcanized rubber items||$1,271,834,000||+17.7%|
|99||Flat-rolled stainless steel items||$1,250,823,000||+52%|
|100||Tracksuits, swimwear (not knit or crochet)||$1,228,330,000||+82.8%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$370.7 billion or almost three-quarters (65.2%) by value for all products exported from France during 2021.
In macroeconomic terms, France’s total exported goods represent 17.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($3.322 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 17.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 16.1 for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for France’s total economic performance, albeit that premise is based on a very short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. France’s unemployment rate was 8.133% at October 2021, up from an average 7.992% one year earlier according to the International Monetary Fund.
France’s capital city is Paris.
See also France’s Top 10 Imports, France’s Top Trading Partners and France’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
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Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on January 21, 2023
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International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on January 21, 2023
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Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on January 21, 2023
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Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on January 21, 2023
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on January 21, 2023