FR: Merchandise Trade

Tue Aug 08 01:45:00 CDT 2017

Actual Previous Revised
Level E-4.66B E-4.89B E-4.33B

Seasonally adjusted, the merchandise trade balance was E4.66 billon in the red in June after a smaller revised E4.33 billion in May.

The modest headline deterioration reflected a 2.8 percent monthly fall in exports that more than offset a 2.0 percent decline in imports. The former was hit by weakness in aerospace, autos and pharmaceuticals while the latter suffered from falls in energy, pharmaceuticals, aeronautical, space, food and intermediate goods.

Despite the worsening in June, a second quarter deficit of E14.58 billion still compares very favourably with the first quarter's E19.77 billion when net exports subtracted 0.6 percentage points off quarterly real GDP growth. Indeed, the provisional national accounts already released showed net external trade boosting growth by fully 0.8 percentage points last quarter. Nonetheless, the trade deficit remains sizeable and, at E34.35 billion over the first half of the year, was nearly 50 percent larger than during the same period of 2016. Even allowing for swings in energy prices, the red ink raises serious question marks over French competitiveness and local industry will certainly not want to see the current rally in the euro extended much further.

The merchandise trade balance measures the difference between imports and exports of goods. The level of the international trade balance, as well as changes in exports and imports, indicate trends in foreign trade and can offer a guide to an economy's competitiveness.

Changes in the level of imports and exports, along with the difference between the two (the trade balance) are a valuable gauge of economic trends here and abroad. While these trade figures can directly impact all financial markets, they primarily affect currency values in foreign exchange markets. Given the size of the French economy, the euro can be sensitive to changes in the trade balance. The bond market is also sensitive to the risk of importing inflation. This report gives a breakdown of trade with major countries as well, so it can be instructive for investors who are interested in diversifying globally. For example, a trend of accelerating exports to a particular country might signal economic strength and investment opportunities in that country.