France Economy Facts

Economical overview

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.

  • Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including FRA which represents the country of France. Check findjobdescriptions to learn more about 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.


GDP per person

US $ 41,464 (2018)

Total GDP

US $ 2,777,535 million (2018)

GDP growth

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)


euro 1

  1. 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.


Budget tightening

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 environments.

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 richest.

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 over.


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 government forces.

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.

France Economy Facts

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