Industrial and trade data cast pall during election

9th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 9, 2007 (AFP) - French industrial output fell in January and the trade balance showed a worsening deficit, official data showed on Friday pitching troubling data into an election campaign.

PARIS, March 9, 2007 (AFP) - French industrial output fell in January and the trade balance showed a worsening deficit, official data showed on Friday pitching troubling data into an election campaign.

In January, industrial output fell by 0.3 percent from the level in December when it had surged by 1.0 percent, revised figures from the statistics institute INSEE showed.

Over the last year, economists here have expressed concern that the trade data in particular is a warning that French industry is at risk of becoming structurally uncompetitive.

Competitiveness, tax incentives, labour law and pay rates are central issues in campaigning for a presidential election at the end of April and in May.

The INSEE figures showed that manufactured output alone, excluding the contribution of the energy, farm and food sectors, fell by 0.5 percent in January after a revised rise of 0.9 percent in December.

The trade deficit deepened to 2.760 billion euros from a revised figure of 2.584 billion euros (3.64 billion dollars) in December on an adjusted basis, customs data showed.

In the 12 months to the end of January, France had a trade deficit of 28.465 billion euros.

In January, exports fell slightly to 32.40 billion euros from 32.76 billion euros in December, as did imports to 35.16 billion euros from 35.34 billion euros.

Regarding big contracts, France exported 21 Airbus airliners worth 1.031 billion euros in January compared with 24 aircraft worth 1.397 billion euros in December.

At Finance house Asteres, economist Nicolas Bouzou said "There is still no sign of improvement in French industry". This was also in line with the foreign trade data, he added.

"French industry faces two problems. A structural problem of competitivesness ... but also now a problem of the cycle linked to the slowing of growth of the world economy."

At ACDE, economist Marc Touati noted the "poor" industrial and trade figures, commenting that "French growth will have difficulty exceeding 1.7 percent this year and therefore will not be enough to finance the measures announced by the main (presidential) candidates."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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