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Results of French foreign trade in the first half of 2023

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In the 1st half of 2023, trade in goods was resilient: exports of goods in value fell slightly (-0.8% compared to the 2nd half of 2022) while imports fell more sharply (-9.4%).

This resilience is all the more marked when considering trade volumes due to the fall in prices: our exports of goods and services in volume increased significantly in the second quarter of 2023 (+2.6% compared to the 1st quarter of 2023) while imports stabilized (+0.4%).

France’s trade with the rest of the world is improving. Thus, the current account deficit, aggregate of the balances of goods, services and income, is reduced by €30 billion in the first half of 2023 (to -€9.6 billion).

Nevertheless, the confirmation of these positive trends over the long term remains subject to the uncertainties weighing on the international environment: inflation that remains high, a disappointing upturn in activity in China.

Balance of goods: the energy bill is reduced, sectors confirm their success

In terms of trade in goods, the fall in the energy bill led to a marked improvement in the trade deficit, to -€54 billion compared to -€89 billion in the second half of 2022.

The half-year balance excluding energy and military equipment increased by €7 billion to stand at -€30 billion. This trend is driven by the increase in exports in several sectors:

  • The aeronautics sector (+12%), whose surplus is approaching its record level in the first half of 2019 (+€16 billion).
  • The automotive sector (+8%), driven in particular by electric and hybrid vehicles;
  • Perfumes and cosmetics (+7%);
  • The textile sector (+3%).

As a result of the return to normal in agricultural commodity prices and trade tensions, exports in the agricultural and agri-food sector contracted by 5%.

Finally, our exports are progressing in particular to non-EU Europe (United Kingdom, Switzerland) or to Asia-Oceania, with the end of the zero-Covid policy in China.

Balance of services: a strong surplus that remains
After reaching record levels in 2022, the services surplus remains at a high level despite the return to normal freight costs, at +€20bn.

Two sectors stand out for their good results:

  • The travel sector, with a surplus of €11bn;
  • Financial services, whose balance, which has been increasing since 2020, reached a new record (+€6 billion).

Income balance: a surplus that reflects the success of French subsidiaries abroad
The revenue surplus, at €14 billion, was driven by the increase in FDI revenue (+€3.4 billion), which emanated from the good results of French companies established abroad. For the Minister Delegate, « this is proof that our internationalization model, which is based in part on the establishment of French subsidiaries abroad, works ».

A dynamic exporting device

The number of French exporters continues to grow. At the end of March 2023, it was approaching 148,000, up 9% compared to the end of 2021.

+ Download summary of foreign trade results for the first half of 2022 >>
+ Read the press release >>

The DG Trésor remains fully mobilized with the Minister and his teams as part of its mission to monitor multilateral trade issues and support the export and internationalization of French companies, in order to support the dynamism of our export system. .


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