Economy in France

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Economy—overview: One of the four West European trillion-dollar economies France matches a growing services sector with a diversified industrial base and substantial agricultural resources. Services now account for more than 70% of GDP while industry generates about one-quarter of GDP and more than 80% of export earnings. The government retains considerable influence over key segments of each sector with majority ownership of railway electricity aircraft and telecommunication firms. It nevertheless has been slowly relaxing its control over these sectors since the early 1990s most recently selling 23% of France Telecom. The government also plans to sell its stakes in Air France and in the insurance banking and defense industries. Meanwhile large tracts of fertile land the application of modern technology and subsidies have combined to make France the leading agricultural producer in Western Europe. A major exporter of wheat and dairy products France is virtually self-sufficient in agriculture. The economy expanded by 2.3% last year following a 1.3% gain in 1996. Persistently high unemployment still poses a major problem for the government however as does the need to control government spending to keep the economy internationally competitive and meet membership qualifications for the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) which is slated to introduce a common European currency in January 1999. Succeeding governments have shied away from cutting exceptionally generous social welfare benefits or the enormous state bureaucracy preferring to pare defense spending and raise taxes to keep the deficit down. The JOSPIN administration has pledged both to lower unemployment and bring France into EMU pinning its hopes for new jobs on economic growth and on legislation to gradually reduce the workweek from 39 to 35 hours by 2002.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$1.32 trillion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 2.3% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$22 700 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:

agriculture: 2.4%

industry: 26.5%

services: 71.1% (1994)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 2% (1996)

Labor force:

total: 25.5 million

by occupation: services 69% industry 26% agriculture 5% (1995)

Unemployment rate: 12.4% (1997)

Budget:

revenues: $222 billion

expenditures: $265 billion including capital expenditures of $NA (1998 est.)

Industries: steel machinery chemicals automobiles metallurgy aircraft electronics mining textiles food processing tourism

Industrial production growth rate: 4% (1997 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 102.94 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 467.541 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 6 841 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: wheat cereals sugar beets potatoes wine grapes; beef dairy products; fish catch of 850 000 metric tons ranks among world's top 20 countries and is all used domestically

Exports:

total value: $275 billion (f.o.b. 1997 est.)

commodities: machinery and transportation equipment chemicals foodstuffs agricultural products iron and steel products textiles and clothing

partners: Germany 17% Italy 9% UK 9% Spain 8% Belgium-Luxembourg 8% US 6% Netherlands 4.5% Japan 2% Russia 0.7% (1996)

Imports:

total value: $256 billion (f.o.b. 1997 est.)

commodities: crude oil machinery and equipment agricultural products chemicals iron and steel products

partners: Germany 17% Italy 10% US 9% Belgium-Luxembourg 8% UK 8% Spain 7% Netherlands 5% Japan 3% China 2% (1997 est.)

Debt—external: $117.6 billion (1996 est.)

Economic aid:

donor: ODA $7.915 billion (1993)

Currency: 1 French franc (F) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: French francs (F) per US$1—6.0836 (January 1998) 5.8367 (1997) 5.1155 (1996) 4.9915 (1995) 5.5520 (1994) 5.6632 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year

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