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 imports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively less expensive when converted starting from the stronger euro.
French imports represent 4% of overall global imports which totaled an estimated $17.706 trillion one year earlier during 2020.
France’s most valuable imported products in 2021 include cars, refined petroleum oils, mobile phones and computers.
From a continental perspective, almost two-thirds (64.6%) of France’s total imports by value in 2021 were purchased from fellow European countries. Trade partners in Asia supplied 22.7% of import purchases by France while 6.9% worth originated from North America.
Smaller percentages came from Africa (4.4%), Latin America (1.3%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.3%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Given France’s population of 65.3 million people, its total $700.1 billion in 2021 imports translates to roughly $10,700 in yearly product demand from every person in the European Union nation. That per-capita average compares to $8,800 one year earlier in 2020.
France’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in France’s import purchases during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into France.
- Machinery including computers: US$84.2 billion (12% of total imports)
- Vehicles: $75.9 billion (10.8%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $70.8 billion (10.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $64.1 billion (9.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $33.9 billion (4.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $29.2 billion (4.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $23.3 billion (3.3%)
- Organic chemicals: $16.5 billion (2.4%)
- Iron, steel: $15.2 billion (2.2%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $14.3 billion (2%)
France’s top 10 imports accounted for more than three-fifths (61.1%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
The fastest growers among the top product categories from 2020 to 2021 were mineral fuels including oil (up 80.4%), iron or steel as materials (up 57.1%), items made from iron or steel (up 37.2%), plastics as a material and items made from plastic (up 31.4%) and electrical machinery or equipment (up 19.5%).
In 2021, French importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery-related products including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$11.9 billion (up 14.6% from 2020)
- Turbo-jets: $9.5 billion (up 7%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $3.8 billion (up 23.3%)
- Machinery parts: $3.4 billion (up 20.5%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $3.3 billion (up 19.4%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $3.2 billion (up 39.8%)
- Printing machinery: $3.1 billion (up 12.8%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $2.7 billion (up 16.8%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $2.6 billion (up 23%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $2.4 billion (up 18.2%)
Among these import subcategories, French purchases of refrigerators and freezers (up 39.8%), taps, valves and similar appliances (up 23.3%) then miscellaneous machinery (up 23%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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 2021, French importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$40.2 billion (up 10% from 2020)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $16.3 billion (up 26.6%)
- Trucks: $7.3 billion (up 18.5%)
- Tractors: $4.1 billion (up 44.2%)
- Motorcycles: $2.3 billion (up 21.5%)
- Trailers: $1.4 billion (up 20.9%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $1.2 billion (up 1.6%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $1.1 billion (up 39.9%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $566.6 million (up 7.4%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $509.8 million (up 15.8%)
Among these import subcategories, French purchases of tractors (up 44.2%), motorcycle parts or accessories (up 39.9%) then automobile parts or accessories (up 26.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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 2021, French importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Processed petroleum oils: US$24.8 billion (up 51.8% from 2020)
- Petroleum gases: $19.6 billion (up 139.6%)
- Crude oil: $19.1 billion (up 64.3%)
- Electrical energy: $3.9 billion (up 362.4%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $1.2 billion (up 37.4%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $770.9 million (up 46.2%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $504.9 million (up 270.5%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $447.8 million (up 6.3%)
- Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $158.6 million (up 192.7%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $131.2 million (up 56.1%)
Among these import subcategories, French purchases of electrical energy (up 362.4%), coke or semi-coke (up 270.5%) then natural bitumen, asphalt and shale (up 192.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
These amounts clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported fossil fuels-related products among French businesses and consumers.
In 2021, French importers spent the most on the following subcategories of electrical products including consumer electronics.
- Phone devices including smartphones: US$14 billion (up 16% from 2020)
- Insulated wire/cable: $4.9 billion (up 24.6%)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $4.7 billion (up 27.8%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $3.7 billion (up 24.6%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $3.6 billion (up 24.5%)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $3.5 billion (up 23.2%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $3 billion (up 24.9%)
- Electric storage batteries: $3 billion (up 16.7%)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $1.8 billion (up 31%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $1.7 billion (up 19.2%)
Among these import subcategories, French purchases of blood fractions including antisera (up 18.1%) and medication mixes in dosage (up 15.5%) grew from 2020 to 2021.
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 Trading Partners, France’s Top 10 Exports and France’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
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International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 15, 2022
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