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 (20)
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 French wheat also faces competition from EU and Black Sea 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.
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: French defence spending will increase in 2016, amid the government's ongoing fight against internal and external threats. The Paris attacks in November consolidated the government's promise to halt armed forces downsizing and strengthen counter-terrorism capacities both domestically and internationally. The need to modernise the existing fleets and technologies will incur further procurement contracts throughout the armed forces, notably in cyber-crime and operational equipment. Military expenditure will increase slowly in the coming years in light of persistent threats and as economic conditions improve and political uncertainty decreases. French defence manufacturers, which satisfy most of the national procurements will continue to look to international expansion and should consistently deliver record-...
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: Brexit and a terrorist attack in Nice resulted in a small downgrade to the IT spending forecast for France in the Q4 update. An increase in political and economic uncertainty has weakened already fragile economic sentiment in France, but we still envisage stronger performance in 2016 compared to 2015 when the extent of euro depreciation against the US dollar was a major drag on the hardware segment. Looking beyond short-term risk factors, there are opportunities in France if Paris captures a share of any financial services relocation away from London after Brexit, as well as in specific product categories such as cloud computing, cyber security and Internet of Things.
Latest Updates & Industry Developments
Computer Hardware Sales: EUR16.9bn in 2016 to EUR17.9bn in 2020 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR)...
BMI View : The construction industry should return to growth in 2016, with 0.80% 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.
Forecasts And Latest Updates
Weaknesses in France's labour market - in terms of unemployment and lack of competitiveness - support our modest outlook over the country's construction industry.
Our outlook for the residential and non-residential construction...
BMI View: We expect to see further expansion in France's vast and well developed insurance sector throughout the coming quarters, as companies roll out new products and distribution strategies. However, slowing economic growth and an increasingly challenging environment for consumers will weigh on demand for insurance products, limiting growth in a number of sub-sectors. In particular, the life insurance segment is expected to slow over the months ahead, as low interest rates and weakening consumer sentiment temper its expansion. Elsewhere, the motor and property lines will also see growth begin to moderate due to...
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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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.
Brexit is likely to have significant effects on the French petrochemicals market and will draw focus towards the further restructuring of the industry, which will be crucial to competitiveness. Aside from slower market activity, challenges include the impact of rising crude prices on naphtha feedstock prices; economies of scale at cracker plants; the impact of labour unrest in the refinery sector on the production chain; and the need to secure investment in research and development in order to maintain competitiveness in downstream value-added production.
In terms of long-term prospects, BMI does not believe France's petrochemicals sector has gone through a sufficient process of structural adjustment to improve cost margins and efficiency, in large part due to the protectionism of the government. We caution French petrochemicals output, in the medium term, could decline as a result of plant closures. This makes...
Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare
France Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare
BMI View: The UK vote to leave the EU will weigh on France's economic growth over the next few quarters, which in turn will pose downside risks to our pharmaceutical and healthcare sector forecasts. Despite the large pharmaceutical market and high drug spending per capita, which will continue to make France a major global market for drugmakers, market expansion will only resume at a slow pace over the next few years, with return to marginal positive growth in 2017. In line with our view in recent quarters, the rate of investment growth in France's pharmaceutical sector has remained relatively subdued in H116, while this trend will likely continue over the coming quarters, in part due to sluggish...
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: Long-term regulatory visibility in France's non-hydropower sector will be conducive to growth over the next decade - with the energy transition bill having been formally adopted and expansion plans being centred on ambitious capacity targets. We therefore believe France will emerge as a renewables growth hotspot in Europe as this expansion gains traction over the next five years.
BMI View: French households are due to see a nice recovery in spending over 2016, as consumer confidence rises and concerns about the labour market ease. These improvements will be marginal but given the overall sluggish growth of the past few years, it is a positive sign for retailers. This therefore will not translate immediately into a rush for high-priced goods and luxury products, as consumers will remain cautious. Discounters and staples will continue to outperform in this environment.
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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,...