Airbus sales help cut official French trade deficit
France showed a sharply reduced trade deficit of 4.69 billion euros ($6.1 billion) in March from 6.01 billion euros in February, owing mainly to the sale of Airbus aircraft while imports continued to fall, the customs service said on Tuesday.
The customs service said that exports were rising after sliding for two months.
The export figures had been boosted by a record delivery of Airbus airliners and of a cruise liner.
Sales of Airbus airliners totalled 34 aircraft in March worth 2.88 billion euros.
The customs service also revised its figure for the trade balance for the whole of 2012 to show a deficit of 67.67 billion euros.
Trade with other countries in the European Union fell, but imports fell by more than exports.
In March the deficit with other European countries fell to 3.7 billion euros in March from 4.0 billion euros in February.
And in the same month, owing to the delivery of aircraft equipment to China, the trade deficit with China and Hong Kong fell sharply to 1.4 billion euros, the lowest level for nearly five years.
France has developed a big structural trade deficit over several years, and correcting this by improving the competitive position of French industry is a priority for the Socialist government as part of a strategy to reverse a rise in unemployment.
There is deep public concern about a perceived "delocalisation" of industrial activity from France to low-cost countries such as China, and about perceived high levels of imports from emerging economies and notably China.
A trade surplus is one of the factors of growth in an economy, together with consumption, investment and some government expenditure.
In March, exports of transportation equipment rallied, boosted by the sale of a cruise liner for 509 million euros, and by a slight improvement in sales of vehicles.
But some other sectors, notably for pharmaceutical products and refined oil products, had done less well.
In March, exports amounted to 36.2 billion euros and imports to 40.9 billion euros.
In the first quarter, and on a 12-month basis, exports fell by 1.6 percent and imports fell by 2.9 percent.
© 2013 AFP