Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the euro appreciated by 3.1% against the US dollar since 2016 and increased by 2% from 2019 to 2020. The stronger European Union currency makes France’s imports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively less expensive when converted starting from the stronger euro.
French imports represent 3% of overall global imports which totaled an estimated $19.085 trillion one year earlier during 2019 (as calculated on February 14, 2021).
From a continental perspective, almost two-thirds (63.1%) of France’s total imports by value in 2020 were purchased from fellow European countries. Asian trade partners supplied 22.6% of import purchases by France while 7.3% worth originated from North America. Smaller percentages came from Africa (3.8%), Latin America (1.2%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Given France’s population of 65 million people, its total $569.2 billion in 2020 imports translates to roughly $8,800 in yearly product demand from every person in the European Union nation.
France’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in France’s import purchases during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into France.
- Machinery including computers: US$71.3 billion (12.5% of total imports)
- Vehicles: $65.4 billion (11.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $53.6 billion (9.4%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $39.6 billion (7%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $28.7 billion (5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $22.2 billion (3.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $20.1 billion (3.5%)
- Organic chemicals: $14.6 billion (2.6%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $13 billion (2.3%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $11.1 billion (1.9%)
France’s top 10 imports accounted for nearly three-fifths (59.7%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Only one top product category declined in value, namely French imports of pharmaceuticals via its 14.5% increase year over year.
Leading the declining categories were mineral fuels including oil (down -40%), aircraft and spacecraft (down -37.1%) then machinery including computers (down -14.7%).
In 2020, French importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery-related products including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$10.4 billion (up 10.4% from 2019)
- Turbo-jets: $8.8 billion (down -48.4%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $3.1 billion (down -9%)
- Machinery parts: $2.8 billion (down -9.7%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $2.8 billion (up 3.4%)
- Printing machinery: $2.7 billion (down -14.5%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $2.3 billion (up 1.5%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $2.3 billion (down -9.1%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $2.1 billion (up 6.2%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $2 billion (down -12%)
Among these import subcategories, French purchases of computers including optical readers (up 10.4%), miscellaneous machinery (up 6.2%) then centrifuges, filters and purifiers (up 3.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
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 2020, French importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$36.8 billion (down -4.5% from 2019)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $12.9 billion (down -22.2%)
- Trucks: $6.2 billion (down -14.2%)
- Tractors: $2.9 billion (down -25.1%)
- Motorcycles: $1.9 billion (up 2.9%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $1.2 billion (down -7.1%)
- Trailers: $1.2 billion (down -11.2%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $813.8 million (down -9%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $525.6 million (down -8.5%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $440.3 million (up 10.1%)
Among these import subcategories, French purchases of bicycles, other non-motorized cycles (up 10.1%) and motorcycles (up 2.9%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
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 2020, French importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Processed petroleum oils: US$16.3 billion (down -31.9% from 2019)
- Crude oil: $12 billion (down -50.8%)
- Petroleum gases: $8.1 billion (down -39.6%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $863.8 million (down -47.4%)
- Electrical energy: $863.2 million (up 11.2%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $530.1 million (down -36.9%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $420.2 million (up 57.2%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $136.7 million (down -39.6%)
- Peat: $96 million (up 17.5%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $83.5 million (down -12.3%)
Among these import subcategories, French purchases of high temperature distilled coal tar oils (up 57.2%), peat (up 17.5%) and electrical energy (up 11.2%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported fossil fuels-related products among French businesses and consumers.
In 2020, French importers spent the most on the following subcategories of pharmaceuticals.
- Medication mixes in dosage: US$18.2 billion (up 15.5% from 2019)
- Blood fractions (including antisera): $8.3 billion (up 18.1%)
- Dried organs, heparin: $998.6 million (down -0.2%)
- Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods: $651 million (down -4.3%)
- Packaged dressings: $506.6 million (down -5.7%)
- Medication mixes not in dosage: $80.2 million (down -14%)
Among these import subcategories, French purchases of blood fractions including antisera (up 18.1%) and medication mixes in dosage (up 15.5%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentages within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported pharmaceuticals 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
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on February 14, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on February 14, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 14, 2021
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on February 14, 2021