The services remain a stronghold of the French economy

A study by INSEE shows that the trade surplus, however, decreased by almost half between 2012 and 2016.

In difficulty in the sector, France remains one of the most dynamic countries in the service world. A study by INSEE on companies, published on Thursday 8 October, recalls that the Hexagon was the 4th largest exporter of services in 2016, with a market share of 4.9%. In Europe, it occupies third place, behind Germany and the United Kingdom.

But if the balance of these exchanges is " structurally in excess ", INSEE says, has deteriorated since 2013. This decline is actually the second largest in the European Union in the period 2012-2016. Overall, France is the eighth largest exporter of goods worldwide with a 3% market share

A surplus of 18 billion in 2016

The trade surplus in the services sector decreased by almost half between 2012 and 2016, from 31 billion euros to 17.8 billion euros. In 2017, however, it had risen by 8 billion euros (to 26 billion), thanks to an increase in the surplus of "travel" – a sector a bit ". wider According to INSEE, tourism takes into account, for example, purchases made by cross-border and seasonal workers.

In this period, "France loses a place in the trade balance of services between the countries of the European Union, underlines the INSEE study. In 2016, the United Kingdom and Spain are still leading, but now follow Luxembourg. "

A big exporter, Germany is also a very important importer and its balance is " structural deficit ", Says INSEE, because of the trip (deficit of 38 billion euros in this sector, for a total deficit of 21 billion) .In the period, however, its overall deficit decreased by 12 billion euros.

> Read: Germany, an inimitable economic model for France

Exchanges that remain dynamic

If the balance is reduced, the exchange of services between France and other countries remains very dynamic. Between 2012 and 2016, exports grew every year, like those of the other main countries, with the exception of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. They reached 235 billion euros in 2016, or 11% of the gross domestic product.

But the slightly less favorable balance is explained by an even more dynamic increase in imports: they amount to 220 billion euros in 2016, the highest level of the EU after Germany.

Excess of the travel industry

By sector, it is not surprising that the trip attracts the French surplus, in addition to financial services and technical services (engineering, waste treatment, commercial services …).

On the other hand, transport and R & D services are structurally loss-making.

The place of multinational subsidiaries

The INSEE study also shows that the most successful companies in terms of trade in services are those most integrated into the global economy, in particular the branches of multinationals: they represent only 12% of the units carrying out international trade, but they represent 90 % of French exports and imports of services.

But only the branches of the French multinationals are in surplus for the entire period 2013-2016: they generate an average surplus of 10 billion euros in the year, while the branches of foreign multinationals have an average annual deficit of 2 billion . On the other hand, the branches of French multinationals are losing ground, as their surpluses are shrinking, while the situation of their foreign counterparts is improving.

Séverin Husson

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