France is one of the major and most advanced European economies. As a founding member of the EU, and despite the effects of enlargement, France continues to be close to the centre of its decision-making process. As the EU expands, France will have opportunities to grow its export and trading relations. While the improving regional outlook may provide some upside potential, it may not be enough to spark a recovery in France’s manufacturing sector, unless the country addresses its competitiveness issues.
We keep our clients informed of the latest market moves and political developments in France, as part of our 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' perspective. Clients also benefit from in-depth analysis on 20 of France’s most important industries. We provide interactive data and forecasting alongside detailed and risk-assessed analysis from our expert research teams. Our aim is to keep you ahead of the game, so you can operate with confidence in France.
France Country Risk
French economic growth will lag the rest of the eurozone over the next two years as investment growth and external demand remain lacklustre. Meanwhile, meagre wage growth and high unemployment mean that household consumption - traditionally the key driver of the economy - will become less able to support growth.
France will experience a temporary terms of trade boost in 2016 and 2017 which will keep its trade deficit from expanding significantly. Beyond 2017 we expect the structural inefficiencies of the French economy to result in an expansion of its trade and current account deficits.
While France will benefit from a cyclical economic upswing in the eurozone, it is too early to tell if improving economic conditions will be enough to save President Francois Hollande from elimination in the first round of the presidential...
France Industry Coverage (29)
BMI View: Grains production will see limited growth over the next five years due to a high base from 2014/15 and only moderate increases in prices, while France also faces competition from other European producers on the export market. French dairy farmers will be among the EU's outperformers due to steady import demand for their cheese production. French meat production will suffer from continued weak demand from other EU countries, the traditional importers of French meat.
Wheat production growth 2014/15 to 2019/20: 3.9% to 40.5mn tonnes. Our forecasts indicate only...
BMI View: Passenger cars will outperform CVs boosted by consumer borrowing and spending, while slow business investment improvements lead to slow CV purchase growth.
France Commercial Banking
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Defence & Security
France Defence & Security
BMI View: BMI 's France Defence & Security Report examines the current structure of the French armed forces. It evaluates ongoing defence reform initiatives and examines the position of France in NATO and its defence commitments around the world. In addition, it discusses the French defence industry and its performance both in home and international markets.
Regarding defence spending we expect France to spend USD53bn on defence in 2014. We believe that France will spend an average of USD51bn on defence between 2015 and 2019 with the defence budget increasing to USD52.8 by 2019.
In terms of defence exports, official figures published during Q414 noted that the value of French military exports had increasing by up to 42% in 2013, compared to 2012. French military operations have been said to have been very helpful as a '...
Food & Drink
France Food & Drink
BMI View: Our consumer outlook for France is brightening as economic activity returns to growth, though weak, following several years of recession. The easing of deflationary pressures is another positive dynamic, especially for mass grocery retailers. Nonetheless, with household incomes - especially in the lower and middle classes - remaining under pressure and high existing levels of food consumption, we forecast only tepid growth in the sector over the next five years. Food and drink categories that are perceived as healthy and/or convenient will outperform.
Headline Industry Data (local currency)
2015 food consumption (local currency) growth = +1.6%; compound annual growth rate (CAGR) 2014 to 2019 = +1.6%.
2015 alcoholic drink sales (local currency) growth= +0.4%; CAGR 2014 to 2019 = +0.9%....
France Freight Transport
BMI View: The French freight transport sector will experience tepid growth over 2015, with rail and air set to outperform road freight in terms of tonnage growth. Nevertheless, road will continue to dominate the freight mix over 2016, with over 95.5% of the total market share, followed by rail freight carrying 4.4% of total freight. We do not anticipate major changes to the freight mix through our forecast period to 2020 given the dominance of the road network, though significant investment in rail freight could increase the sector's market share in the longer term.
The French economy will grow by 1.4% in real terms in 2016, up from 1.1% in 2015. Private consumption will continue to be the main driver of growth though the structural impediments to a significant uptick in French activity remain. Since 2012-2013, there...
France Information Technology
BMI View: We continue to anticipate a moderately positive growth trajectory for France's IT sector in 2016. This follows the decision to downgrade our forecast for 2015 in our Q415 report. We predict that, in 2016, the IT market as a whole will grow by 1.4% in local currency terms to reach a total value of EUR53.27bn. Growth in dollar terms will be slower due to currency volatility and the strength of the US dollar. We expect the market will contract by 1.4% in dollar terms to reach a total value of USD56.99bn. This forecast does not change our core view of France as a mature IT market with lucrative markets for advanced IT products and solutions, as well as a leading ecosystem of local firms - especially in the software and services segments. We identify a number of specific...
BMI View : The construction industry should return to growth in 2016, with 0.74% real growth after years of strong contraction. Nevertheless, growth will remain weak over the next few years as a weak domestic economic environment and ongoing policy and regulatory uncertainty are undermining investor confidence and we expect to see limited gains in terms of fixed capital formation.
Latest Updates And Structural Trends
Weaknesses in France's labour market - in terms of unemployment and lack of competitiveness - support our modest outlook over the country's construction industry.
The outlook for the housing market remains bleak as economic uncertainty and stubborn unemployment rates prevent a recovery...
BMI View: France is home to one of the largest insurance markets globally, with both life and non-life insurance benefiting from strong rates of penetration and density. As a mature market, growth prospects are relatively limited. Competition is intense, particularly in key non-life lines such as motor insurance, which places significant downwards pressure on pricing and as a result some lines will struggle to achieve growth over the forecast period. The leading insurance providers are, however, proven innovators and the strengthening of the product offering in the market will allow some growth to be achieved. The gradual expected improvements in household income rates and unemployment rates will also stimulate some growth moving forward.
France Medical Devices
BMI Industry View : France will remain the fifth largest market in the world over our 2014-2019 forecast period, despite a fairly modest US dollar CAGR of 2.4%. Further cost containment measures to control spending on medical devices will limit underlying growth in the market, which is primarily driven by the rising healthcare needs of the aging population and the need to keep pace with new technology.
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BMI View: We have increased our 2016 tin price forecast to USD16,500/tonne owing to a stabilisation in the Chinese economy over Q116 that has boosted all industrial metal prices significantly over January-April. While we expect consolidation over the remainder of 2016, tin prices will continue to recover beyond 2016 as the global market posts sustained market deficits and inventories dwindle.
BMI view: We have revised our aluminium price forecast from USD1,575/tonne to USD1,600/tonne in 2016, as the tightening market provided an earlier than expected floor in Q116. Aluminium prices will gradually edge higher as the global market moves into a deficit by 2018.
BMI View: Despite the strong H116 iron ore price rally, prices will edge lower due to weakening Chinese consumption over the latter half of 2016. From 2017 onwards, iron ore prices will remain subdued as iron ore prices remain under pressure from an over-supplied seaborne market, driven by strong production growth in Australia and Brazil, and weak consumption growth in China.
BMI View: Nickel prices will bottom in 2016 as weak production drags the global market into deficit. For instance, we expect Chinese imports of nickel to grow over the coming quarters. Prices will begin 2016 weaker than we had previously expected and we have thus revised down our 2016 average price forecast to USD9,000/tonne from USD10,500/tonne.
BMI View: We have revised down our average copper price forecast for 2016 to USD4,900/tonne. We expect prices to find a floor over the first half of 2016, and begin to stabilise thereafter, supported by production cuts and modest consumption growth.
BMI View: We have raised our gold price forecast for 2016 to USD1,275/oz and have a new five-year price target of USD1,400/oz. We have turned more positive towards prices due to rising inflation pressures and our view that real rates will remain depressed in developed markets beyond 2016. A modest rise in prices will be insufficient to reverse the trend of weak mine investment and industry consolidation.
BMI View: Global steel prices will remain subdued due to a persistent steel oversupply over the coming quarters. From 2017 onwards, steel prices will gradually edge higher as the global steel surplus will narrow due to Chinese supply moderation.
BMI View: We maintain our average zinc price forecast for 2016 of USD1,750/tonne. We expect zinc prices to reach a floor over the first half of 2016, and begin to stabilise thereafter, as production cuts shift the market to a deficit.
BMI View: Lead prices will gradually edge higher as the global lead market will shift into deficit by 2017 as production growth will slow over the coming years.
Oil & Gas
France Oil & Gas
BMI View: The overall level of investment in exploration and production in France remains weak and this trend is unlikely to alter significantly without an end to political opposition to exploration of shale oil and gas resources. Plans to begin production of gas from coal bed methane by 2017 could provide a much-needed boost to domestic output, but uncertainty over the project continues. Though downstream margins have benefited from cheaper oil prices, the long-term outlook for the refining sector in France, and in Europe more widely, remains largely pessimistic.
The fundamentals of the French petrochemicals market are mixed. The decline in France's industrial competitiveness over the last ten years is a fundamental issue facing the country. However, domestic automotive producers have made significant steps to improve their competitiveness, which should help assist with bolstering demand in engineering plastics.
France's petrochemicals industry has undergone a process of structural adjustment to improve cost margins. However, it has been behind the curve compared to other Western European states that have seen consolidation and capacity reductions in recent years. Resistance from labour unions has largely been responsible for the slow process of dealing with the sector's lack of integration and poor economies of scale. However, delocalisation is inevitable for the petrochemicals industry, just as it is across the industrial sector.
The planned closure of...
Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare
France Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare
BMI View: Despite the ongoing recovery in some high frequency indicators, subdued economic growth in France relative to regional peers will continue to weigh on the French government spending potential, posing downside risks to our pharmaceutical and healthcare sector forecasts. In line with our view in the previous quarter, France's lack of structural reform will continue to tarnish the country's appeal to pharmaceutical investors. That said, France's position as one of the three largest pharmaceutical markets in Western Europe will underpin renewed commercial opportunities for drugmakers over a multi-year horizon, with market growth rates expected to return to positive territory in 2017.
Headline Expenditure Projections
BMI View: France has a well-developed and extensive domestic power network, including multiple interconnections with neighbouring states and robust generation and capacity. Consumption is expected to show only slow growth over our 10-year forecast period and there is little appetite for significant investment in new power infrastructure, though government renewable energy targets will drive robust growth in terms of wind, solar and geothermal power. Despite the expected growth in renewable energy, the domestic energy mix in France will remain dominated by EDF's nuclear power plants which will account for the majority of generation for much of the forecast period until government plans to...
France Real Estate
BMI View : Our long-term outlook for the French commercial real estate market is optimistic. However, in the short term weak economic growth and faltering investor sentiment will limit development and demand in the sector.
We forecast real GDP growth of 1.4% in 2016 as the economy faces the challenges of a struggling eurozone and slowing global demand. Rising consumer confidence and increased business investment will boost demand and activity across the commercial real estate spectrum in the medium-to-long term. However, in the short term the market will continue to be affected by high unemployment and limited business appetite for expansion.
Over 2016 commercial real estate rents should remain stable in US dollar terms, increasing slightly in euro terms. There will be moderate demand and limited supply across all three sub-sectors we cover (office,...
BMI View: Increased regulatory clarity, in form of the passing of the energy transition bill and the adoption of ambitious long-term targets, will be conducive to robust renewables capacity growth in France over the next decade. Robust government support across the renewables sector will further underpin France's emergence as relatively attractive renewables market in Europe.
BMI View: The French economy will continue to gradually recover, with a GDP growth forecast for 2016 of 1.4%, which is beginning to improve in performance in the context of the broader EU. Retailers will continue to be attracted to the countries large, expanding, highly urbanised and developed retail market, that has the added advantage of servicing a large foreign tourist market. The positive attributes, however, will have a modest effect...
BMI View: The widening stage brought forward by Free's entry into the mobile market in 2012 is drawing to a close, with operators looking at deepening and upselling new services. All four operators have the advantage of being fully convergent, giving them a head-start to offer multiple services to single accounts. But other drivers also include M2M and the IoT, with Orange taking a lead in the segment, and leveraging its success to gain more net additions than its rivals. SFR will compete on quad-play and content, Bouygues on providing cheaper fixed broadband and advanced LTE, while Free will continue to offer pricing pressure through the launch of innovative services.
France has four fully converged operators offering fixed and mobile services to customers in the market. As it becomes saturated, operators will look to expend their premium services offers, as a way to...
BMI View: The French tourism market is one of the largest in the world, welcoming a huge volume of international visitors and benefiting from a well established domestic travel market. While growth has slowed in recent years, the number of international visitors to France is expected to continue to rise throughout our forecast period through to 2019 which in turn will provide a valuable boost to tourism related spending and hotel industry value - cementing tourism's position as a major contributor to the French domestic economy. The country is well placed to keep up with the expected increase in demand, being home to an extensive domestic transport network with excellent international travel connections and one of the most developed hotel and accommodation markets globally.
France's water sector has seen many positive changes in recent years, especially as the government has striven to attain the high standards of quality and practice laid down by the EU. Developments to the infrastructure and technology of the sector have resulted in an efficient and productive industry, which in turn is governed by strong and clear regulations. The improvements, however, are ongoing. With much work still needed and projects continuing to be initiated, the sector is currently very favourable for investors - a fact that is backed up by favourable legislature and an openness to outside input.
The increase in developments and construction projects throughout the water sector, has led to demand for an increased workforce, alongside the introduction of highly skilled tradespeople. To meet this demand the French government is encouraging investment from both French companies and foreign ones. With a surge in the quality of workers,...