Focus on France

Date: 13/07/2020
Author: Pauline Puig
Company: GMCC Trade Team

Since the First World War, France has been holding a military parade on the Champs-Elysées to celebrate “la Fete Nationale du 14 juillet” – Bastille Day! For the first time, and due to social distancing rules, the military parade will be replaced by a smaller ceremony on the Place de la Concorde. 

Like many countries, France’s economy has been greatly affected by the global pandemic of Covid-19. In June the INSEE reported that the economic activity in France was 33% down from normal levels, stating that the economy had, in the first quarter of 2020, entered its worst recession since 1949. To support businesses, the government provided a 110-billion-euro scheme and developed a furlough scheme to protect jobs. However, despite the support provided, over 450,000 temporary workers lost their jobs in the first quarter of the year and unemployment is likely to rise above 11.5 percent in the next year. 

With lockdown measures lifted, the economy is slowly starting to recover. According to the Bank of France, the overall economy will shrink by about 10 per cent this year and should recover its post-Covid levels by mid-2022.

According to the ONS, in 2019, France was the UK’s fourth largest export market and the world’s sixth largest economy. With a population of over 64 million inhabitants and a strong industrial base, France offers a large amount of export opportunities to UK businesses especially in sectors such as aerospace, automotive, renewable energy or agriculture and food. In 2018, the UK exported over €30 billion worth of products to France and imported over €20 billion.

With Brexit coming up at the end of the year, trade between France and the UK will not be as frictionless as before. Customs procedures and documentation will now be required, duty might become applicable, but opportunities will remain. Brexit will not be the end of the “Entente Cordiale”.

If you would like to find out more about opportunities in France or would like to discuss your project on the other side of the Channel, please get in touch with your International Trade Team at