France's economy is one of the largest in the
world. The country has a large industrial base,
extensive agriculture and a lively service sector. The
infrastructure is excellent and the workforce highly
educated. The public sector is relatively large and more
large state companies remain than in many comparable
countries. However, since the beginning of the 2010s,
France has been struggling with economic problems such
as high unemployment and weak growth.
Conscious political initiatives are partly behind
France's economically strong position. Especially during
the 1960s and 1970s, various governments provided
extensive support to the steel and automotive
industries, among others. In the 1980s, a major change
of society was required as the traditional coal, steel
and textile industries in the Northeast experienced a
decline. The state instead invested in high-tech areas
such as information technology, military equipment and
the aerospace industry.
Major imports by France, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.
France has a relatively large government sector, and
traditionally has made major contributions to industry.
The opposition is great against the sale of companies
that are responsible for basic social functions, such as
the railway and the postal system. The state also has a
large ownership in the energy sector and smaller shares
in the automotive industry. In the mid-2010s, the
government began selling some of the smaller state
holdings in order to reduce the high government debt.
The financial crisis, which was a fact at the end of
2008, led to the economy entering a recession. The
crisis hit the French car industry, among other things,
and unemployment increased. The government allocated
money for investments in the public sector, support to
the automotive industry and tax relief and loans to
banks and companies. In 2009, the economy shrank by
about 2.7 percent, which was less than the euro area
average. Although growth was back on track before the
end of the year, the slowness of the world economy and,
not least, the debt crisis in the euro area countries,
meant that the French economy could not seriously
recover. In 2014, the economy was almost at a
standstill, with a marginal increase in gross domestic
product (GDP). From 2015, however, a turnaround came: in
2017, growth was higher than in many years, while
unemployment fell to 9 percent.
Abbreviationfinder.org: Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including FRA which represents the country of France.
The budget deficit increased in crisis year 2009 to
7.5 percent of GDP, a very high figure for an EU
country. The budget deficit has been financed with large
foreign loans, which has resulted in a high government
debt, 96-97 percent of GDP at the middle of the 2010s.
The government tried to overcome these problems, among
other things through cuts in government spending, tax
cuts for companies and labor market reforms.
FACTS - FINANCE
GDP per person
US $ 41,464 (2018)
US $ 2,777,535 million (2018)
1.7 percent (2018)
Agriculture's share of GDP
1.6 percent (2018)
Manufacturing industry's share of GDP
9.7 percent (2018)
The service sector's share of GDP
70.3 percent (2018)
1.2 percent (2019)
Government debt's share of GDP
98.4 percent (2018)
- 1 euro = 100 cents
Conditional imprisonment for Chirac
The former president was sentenced to prison on condition of corruption and
abuse of power when he was mayor of Paris in the 1990s (see March).
Make a genocide
The National Assembly approves a law that makes it illegal to deny that a
genocide was committed against Armenians in the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) in
1915. Turkey threatens to suspend all economic, political and military
cooperation, and calls its Paris ambassador for consultation.
In the shadow of Greece and Italy's debt crises, the French government
decides on budget savings of € 100 billion with the aim of creating a budget
balance by 2016. VAT and corporate tax increases, and planned pension
deterioration is premature.
Hollande becomes presidential candidate
Former Party leader François Hollande is named Socialist Party candidate in
the 2012 presidential election, in a primary election that is the first in
French politics. He wins in the second round over party leader Martine Aubry.
Banks get lowered ratings
Stocks in French major banks are falling heavily due to their exposure to the
debt crisis in Greece. The major banks Crédit Agricole and Société Générale
receive their credit ratings lowered by the credit rating agency Moody's, due to
large holdings of government securities in Greece, among others.
Senate elections win for the opposition
The Socialist bloc thus gains a majority in Parliament's upper house for the
first time in several decades.
Prohibition of praying in the street
The ban in Paris is a result of protests from right-wing groups that many
Muslims have become accustomed to spreading their prayer mats outdoors in street
Court decides the release of de Villepin
An appeals court upholds the acquittal verdict against Dominique de Villepin
(see September 2009 and January 2010). The former prime minister has left the
UMP and formed a new party, République Solidaire, and plans to run for president
in 2012. The six-year legal process is considered by many to have harmed the
political elite in France.
Chirac trial resumed
The trial of former President Jacques Chirac is restarted (see March 2011),
though in the defendant's absence. According to a medical opinion, Chirac is too
sick to attend.
New savings package
Among other things, the government wants to impose an extra tax for the
New charges against Sarkozy
In a book, Sarkozy re-accuses him of receiving money from the billionaire and
L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. Earlier, Bettencourt's former accountant
claimed that Sarkozy received € 150,000 cash in the 2007 presidential election.
Prosecution of Strauss-Kahn is closed
Dominique Strauss-Kahn's charge of sex offenses in New York is discontinued
and he is allowed to return to France.
Large banks get good grades
A so-called stress test shows that France's four largest banks - BNP
Parisbas, Société Générale, Crédit Agricole and Groupe BPCE - are among the most
robust in the EU.
Fransyska becomes new IMF chief
Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is appointed new head of the IMF. New
French Finance Minister and Minister of Industry becomes François Baroin.
Nuclear power investments
The government decides on a billion euros in new investments for nuclear
power, despite warnings following the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Strauss-Kahn resigns as IMF chief
International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is arrested,
suspected of attempted rape in New York. It is described as a "thunderstorm" in
French politics. Strauss-Kahn was expected to stand as Socialist Party candidate
in the 2012 presidential election. Strauss-Kahn's political career is considered
The canning law comes into force
A woman in public wearing a veil that hides her face risks being fined up to
150 euros and forced to teach French laws and norms. A man who forces a woman to
hide her face risks a year in prison and 30,000 euros in fines.
(see July and September 2010)
UMP backs in regional elections
The UMP government party receives only 20 percent of the vote. The Socialist
Party takes 36 percent and the National Front gets 12 percent.
France intervenes in Libya
France recognizes first country National Transitional Council of Libya,
despite the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi's regime in full swing. When the
United Nations Security Council issued military intervention to protect
civilians, French fighter aircraft were among the first to attack Libyan
Trial against Chirac
Former President Jacques Chirac is facing charges of corruption. According to
the indictment, during his time as mayor of Paris, Chirac used public funds for
services for his political party, the Conservative RPR.
The Foreign Minister resigns
After only three months in the post, Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie
resigns, after being criticized for close contacts with the Tunisian regime just
deposed. New Foreign Minister becomes Defense Minister Alain Juppé.
The national front changes leaders
Marine Le Pen succeeds his 82-year-old father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who led the
party since he founded it in 1972.