Second to Germany, France is the second largest exporter and importer in Europe. Since January 1 1995, France has been a part of the World Trade Organisation, existing both as an individual nation and as part of the EU (known officially as the European Communities in the WTO until 30 November 2009).
Much of France’s exports include a number of valuable commodities including machinery and transportation equipment, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, iron, steel, consumer products, petroleum and cars & vehicles. A major part of this foreign trade is carried out with European partners including Germany, UK, Spain and Italy. Exports to the EU increased slightly due to rising deliveries to Germany and Italy.
Outside the EU, sales to Africa and Asia continued to increase, but exports to the Middle East, America, Switzerland and Turkey fell. France is also the world’s largest exporter in the world of both services and farm products.
The manufacturing industry is a key exporter, making up nearly 27% of France’s GDP. France’s exceptional export growth has been aided by structural reforms initiated by the government that promote every aspect of foreign trade.
France is also the ninth-largest trading partner of the U.S.
In June 2013, France's trade deficit narrowed to €4.44 billion. The deficit decline was due to a sharp fall in imports which registered the weakest reading since December 2010.
France's Import and Export Indicators and Statistics at a Glance (2012)
Total value of exports: $567.1 billion
Primary exports – commodities: machinery and transportation equipment, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, iron and steel, beverages
Primary exports partners: Germany (16.7 percent of total exports), Belgium (7.5 percent), Italy (7.5 percent), Spain (6.9 percent), UK (6.9 percent), US (5.6 percent), Netherlands (4.3 percent)
Total value of imports: $641.3 billion
Primary imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, vehicles, crude oil, aircraft, plastics, chemicals
Primary imports partners: Germany (19.5 percent), Belgium (11.3 percent), Italy (7.6 percent), Netherlands (7.4 percent), Spain (6.6 percent), UK (5.1 percent), China (4.9 percent)