With a GDP of $2.865 trillion, France is the world’s sixth-largest economy. It has substantial agricultural resources, a large industrial base, and a highly skilled work force. A dynamic services sector accounts for an increasingly large share of economic activity and is responsible for nearly all job creation in recent years. Real GDP increased 0.7% in 2008. According to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) projections, 2009 GDP will decline by 3.3% (revised March 2009 forecast).
Government economic policy aims to promote investment and domestic growth in a stable fiscal and monetary environment. Creating jobs and reducing the high unemployment rate has been a top priority. The unemployment rate in metropolitan France increased to 7.8% in the fourth quarter of 2008 up from 7.5% in fourth quarter of 2007.. France joined 10 other European Union countries in adopting the euro as its currency in January 1999. Since then, monetary policy has been set by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. On January 1, 2002, France, along with the other countries of the euro zone, dropped its national currency in favor of euro bills and coins.
Despite significant reform and privatization over the past 15 years, the government continues to control a large share of economic activity: Government spending, at 52.7% in 2008, is among the highest in the G-7. The government continues to own shares in corporations in a range of sectors, including banking, energy production and distribution, automobiles, transportation, and telecommunications.
In 2008, in a move to advance France's competitiveness, the National Assembly passed four bills introduced by the French government to modernize the economy and improve the labor market. In October 2007, under President Nicolas Sarkozy's impetus, overtime work beyond the 35-hour work week was exempted from income taxes and payroll taxes, a move to encourage work and to increase work time. Membership in France's labor unions accounts for approximately 5% of the private sector work force and is concentrated in the manufacturing, transportation, and heavy industry sectors. Most unions are affiliated with one of the competing national federations, the largest and most powerful of which are the communist-dominated General Labor Confederation (CGT), the Workers' Force (FO), and the French Democratic Confederation of Labor (CFDT).
France has been very successful in developing dynamic telecommunications, aerospace, and weapons sectors. With virtually no domestic oil production, France has relied heavily on the development of nuclear power, which now accounts for about 80% of the country's electricity production.
GDP (2008): $2.865 trillion Avg. annual growth rate (2008): 0.7%, compared with 2.1% in 2007.
Per capita GDP at PPP (2008): $34,264 (preliminary)
Agriculture: Products--grains (wheat, barley, corn); wines and spirits; dairy products; sugar beets; oilseeds; meat and poultry; fruits and vegetables.
Industry: Types--aircraft, electronics, transportation, textiles, clothing, food processing, chemicals, machinery, steel.
Trade: Exports (2008)--$685 billion (f.o.b.): automobiles, aircraft and aircraft components, pharmaceuticals, automobile equipment, pharmaceuticals, automobile equipment, iron and steel products, refined petroleum products, cosmetics, organic chemicals, electronic components, wine and champagne. Imports (2007)--$605 billion (f.o.b.): oil and natural gas, automobiles, aircraft and aircraft components, refined petroleum products, automobile equipment, pharmaceuticals, iron and steel products, and computers/computer-related products.
Major trading partners--EU and U.S.
Information by U.S. Department of State