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Economy in Brief

French Trade Picture Erodes
by Robert Brusca  June 14, 2011

The French trade picture is showing steady slippage. The trade deficit is eroding steadily. Exports have slowed sharply from their year ago growth rate of 17.7% to 7.2%; the sequential growth rates for exports are somewhat mixed but the recent three month rate of growth is quite weak and has sunk into a slight contraction.

French imports have slowed by less compared to their year ago rate of 15.6%. The current year-year growth rate is a nearly steady 14.0%. Sequential growth rates for French imports also are erratic but the recent three months show some deceleration to about a 10% annual rate. Imports clearly have been and continue to be outpacing imports.

The French imports data show continuing strength in foods with some slowing in transportation equipment and in other imports. For exports transportation flows have been contracting over the three-,six-, and twelve-month horizons. Other exports are slowing but French food exports are holding at a steady and strong rate of growth.

France offers year another view of the Euro-Area and its level of competitiveness. France is having less trade success than Germany and is showing somewhat better maintained domestic demand. Germany’s economy seems geared to re-fabricate goods for export. While the rising euro seems to have little impact on German trade France and the peripheral Zone countries are increasingly having difficulty maintaining their trade positions There is more tension in the Euro-Area than just over debt issues lending and ECB policy.

French Trade Trends for Goods, Excl Military Equip
  M/M% % SAAR
  Apr-11 Mar-11 3M 6M 12M 12M ago
Balance* -€ 8,529.00 -€ 7,364.00 -€ 7,915.67 -€ 7,248.00 -€ 6,500.00 -€ 4,905
All Exp -1.7% 1.4% -0.3% 11.9% 7.2% 17.7%
 Food, Bev &Tobacco 0.1% 1.1% 15.6% 17.6% 14.5% 7.6%
 Transport Equip -1.5% 2.3% -6.1% -3.4% -3.1% 28.8%
Other Exp -2.1% 1.2% -0.6% 16.3% 9.7% 15.8%
All IMP 1.4% 0.0% 9.9% 31.7% 14.0% 15.6%
Food, Bev &Tobacco 0.0% 0.7% 14.1% 22.4% 11.9% 0.2%
Transport Equip 6.1% 3.0% 9.6% 24.2% 18.1% 5.9%
Other Imp 0.6% -0.6% 9.6% 34.0% 13.4% 19.2%
All data seasonally adjusted *Eur mlns; mo or period average
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