French official trade deficit improves, still high

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The French trade balance showed a reduced deficit in March on declining energy and chemical imports, having reached a record high level in February, customs data showed Friday.

The deficit for March was 5.74 billion euros ($8.4 billion) from 6.37 billion euros in February. The February figure was revised downwards on an adjusted basis.

But it remains a record. The previous record was 6.35 billion euros in October 2008.

Exports in March totalled 35.16 billion euros from 34.69 billion euros in February. Imports amounted to 40.91 billion euros from 41.07 billion euros.

France has developed a structural trade deficit in recent years. This is of great concern to the government, and analysts say it reflects a lack of competitiveness as well as weaknesses in the structure of medium-sized companies, compared to the situation in European export champion Germany for example.

They say that France has too few medium-sized companies which export too little and are focused too much on mid-range products which do not have exclusive appeal on foreign markets.

© 2011 AFP

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