Introduction

France is the world’s number four economic power in terms of GDP. The country’s assets are varied and include its transport and telecommunications sectors, agri-foodstuffs and pharmaceutical industries along with banking, insurance, tourism and the traditional luxury products (leather goods, ready-to-wear fashion, perfumes, fine wines and spirits, etc.).

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Agriculture

Farms: 730,000
Farmers/farm workers: 910,000
Utilized agricultural area: 30,139,000 hectares

Principal agricultural products in France:

  • Sugar beet: 1st in the EU, 2nd in the world (29 million tonnes)
  • Wine: 2nd in the world, 2nd in the EU (5.3 million tonnes)
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Industry

Leading industrial sectors in France :

  • Construction and civil engineering. Annual production : 797 billion francs ($159.4 billion). Four French groups (Bouygues, SGE, Eiffage and GTM-Entrepose) rank among the top ten in European construction, with an annual turnover of 158 billion francs ($31.6 billion).

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Research & Development

National R & D expenditure amounts to 190 billion francs ($38 billion) i.e. 2.5% of GDP.

The public sector finances 51% of it and is responsible for operating (building maintenance, salaries, laboratory equipment) the major national research centres, which include the CNRS (all fields), INSERM (medicine), INRA (agronomy), etc..

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Transportation

Road network
Densest in the world, longest in the EU with a total of 964,356 km of local, secondary and main roads and motorways, including 7,396 km of motorways (second in Europe).

Rail network
On 1 January 1996, the
SNCF (National Railroad Company) was responsible for 31,940 km of track.

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Services

SERVICE SECTOR

Financial services
Market capitalization of shares listed on the Paris stock exchange totals 2,400 billion francs ($480 billion), 31.5% of French GDP, ranking Paris fifth in the world.

Four French banks are among the world’s top 25: Crédit Agricole (8th), Compagnie Financière Paribas (20th), Groupe Caisses d’Epargne (21st) and Banque Nationale de Paris (22nd).

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Foreign Trade

France is the world’s second largest exporter of services and farm products and fourth largest exporter of goods (principally durables); it had a trade surplus of 104.5 billion francs ($20.9 billion) in 1995. French exports stood at 1,427 billion francs ($285.4 billion) in 1995, 22% of GDP. Imports amounted to 1,322 billion francs ($264.4 billion).

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