Your guide to exporting to France

Thinking about exporting to France? Get a head start, with our quick guide for exporters

Read the source article by The International Trade Administration (ITA) here.

France’s world-renowned cuisine, UNESCO World Heritage status, and access to Europe’s free movement of goods, capital, services, and labor are major draws for many U.S. firms looking to expand overseas. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s look at a few of the other reasons why France could be the right fit for your expansion plans.

1 Shared history

France and the U.S. have economic and commercial ties dating back to 1778 and the signing of America’s first trade agreement, the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. Since then, the relations between our two nations have remained friendly, with both countries sharing common values and policies around key political, economic and security issues.

Big and stable market

France has the second largest consumer market on the continent and boasts a diverse, qualified and adaptable workforce. In recent years, the government has also taken steps to encourage investment by overseas firms.

Large economy

France’s GDP in 2018 was around $2.8 trillion – making it the fifth-largest economy in the world, and the third in Europe after Germany and the U.K. Despite a recent drop, the country has significant agricultural resources and a robust manufacturing sector. Its service sector now represents a significant chunk of overall economic activity, and has been the source of most new employment in recent years.

Looking closer at its economy, GDP reached 1.7% in 2018 – down 2.4% from the previous year. OECD forecasts also expect the deficit to hit 3.2% of GDP in 2019 – primarily due to the government's €17 billion ($19.2 billion) emergency package following the ‘Yellow Vest’ campaign for the economic and social needs of middle-class and retired workers. The country’s public debt ratio is one of the highest in the Euro-zone, at 98.4% of GDP.

Excellent U.S. trading relations

France and the U.S. have strong trading relations, with over $1 billion in commercial transactions taking place between our two countries each day. Major exports to France include industrial chemicals, aircraft and engines, electronic components, telecommunications, computer software, computers and peripherals, analytical and scientific instrumentation, medical instruments and supplies and broadcasting equipment. America’s high level of investment in France is a huge source of new jobs for the country – and both nations have a bilateral convention on investment, along with a tax treaty addressing areas such as double taxation and tax evasion.

Skilled workforce and modern infrastructure

France has a skilled and talented workforce, thanks in part to its first-rate universities and modern business culture. Its well-established financial markets, strong intellectual property laws and forward-thinking business community also make it a popular draw for companies looking to expand there. There’s also France’s famous high-speed passenger rail – along with its sea ports, world-class infrastructure, roadways and public transport.

Plenty of foreign investment

France has its fair share of investment from abroad. More than 28,000 foreign-owned businesses operate there, and 29 of the world’s 500 largest companies also call it home. The country is the 9th largest global market for foreign direct investment (FDI) and, in 2018, the World Economic Forum ranked France 17th for global competitiveness. As for U.S. interests, America is France’s 7th largest overseas investor, with 4,800 businesses there employing over 480,000 French citizens.

2 Strong infrastructure

The country benefits from high-quality communication infrastructure and attractive operating costs – although the high taxation rates can have a strong effect on the price of imported goods.

3 Access to the rest of Europe

A member of the European Union, France is positioned at the heart of Europe. Setting up an overseas hub in France will give you access to other major markets like Spain, the UK and Germany.

4 High spending potential

French consumers are relatively affluent, with an average household income exceeding $30,000 per year. While this is potentially a significant benefit to most new market entrants, it's always worth looking at income figures relating to specific audience demographics.

5 Sources

For more information and advice, explore the country commercial guides on export.gov, or contact the U.S. Commercial Service.