Eco Flash

French foreign trade: hindered by deterioration in three areas


In 2022, the contribution of French foreign trade to GDP growth was one of the most negative in its history (-0.8 percentage points), hindered by deterioration in three areas.

The first, the rise in energy costs, brought the trade deficit (trade in goods) to an unprecedented level. In addition to "price effects" (mainly the rise in the price of hydrocarbons), there were also "volume" effects, with the balance on electricity and gas storage in particular shifting into deficit. We estimate that these “volume” effects reduced French growth by around 0.4 points in 2022.

The second, and more structural, deterioration relates to manufactured goods. This deterioration was accentuated in 2022 in both nominal and real terms. The strong performance of corporate investment have had a negative impact through the widening of the deficit on capital goods.

The third deterioration relates to the services sector and in particular to maritime freight, whose favourable momentum reversed during 2022, with a downturn in “price” effects, in addition to deterioration in real terms. So, while the improvement in the surplus in the services sector helped to some extent to balance the deterioration in the deficit on goods up to the 1st quarter of 2022, subsequently this was no longer the case and the result was the appearance of a significant current account deficit.