Belessiotis, Tassos and Carone, Giuseppe (1997) A dynamic analysis of France's external trade - determinants of merchandise imports and exports and their role in the trade surplus of the 1990s. Economic Papers No. 122, October 1997. [EU Commission - Working Document]
From the Introduction. One of the striking characteristics of France’s economic performance since the beginning of the present decade has been the strength of the external accounts. In particular, on the basis of national accounts data, since 1989 the current account and the non-energy trade balance have recorded rising surpluses, which in 1996 amounted to 1.7 % of GDP and to close to 1.5 % of GDP, respectively. The service balance, on the other hand, has registered persistent surpluses which averaged between 1 and 1.4 percent of GDP in the 1990s. The largest component of merchandise trade is trade in manufactured goods1. The balance on manufacturing trade recorded surpluses throughout the period following the 1973 oil crisis to the late 1980s. The manufacturing trade balance slipped into deficit in the period 1987-1991 but subsequently moved into surplus which rose to almost 1 % of GDP in 1996. Graph 1 presents quarterly data on the evolution of these variables from the beginning of the 1970s to the end of 1996; data adjusted for inflation present a similar picture. It is clear that since movements in the current account are dominated by movements in the non-energy and, in particular, in the manufacturing trade balance throughout this period the sources of the current account improvement in the 1990s are likely to be those explaining the improvement of the manufacturing trade balance.
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