1887

OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

English, French

The Challenge of Restoring French Competitiveness

Since the beginning of the decade, France has seen a marked decline in its export performance, leading to growing concerns on the part of the authorities and of civil society about the economy’s capacity to adapt to the intensified globalisation of trade and investment in goods and services. The poor foreign trade performance of recent years is related to a series of factors, rather than to any single cause. It cannot be explained by external determinants alone, such as the exchange rate, the trade inroads of emerging countries with strong export potential or the sharp rise in oil prices in 2007-08. Indeed, it is not so much the loss of market share itself that is of concern (many countries have experienced this), but rather the extent of that loss, which reflects problems in responding to the acceleration in global demand earlier this decade, before the apparition of the current crisis. An analysis of the deterioration in competitiveness points to supply-side factors such as the relative inability of French firms to service foreign markets, and the pursuit of industrial strategies of offshoring the entire production process. Restoring competitiveness will require steps to strengthen the country’s growth potential and to address the main long-term determinants of that potential, such as fostering research and development, promoting innovation, reducing the tax burden, boosting competition and creating favourable conditions for businesses to grow rapidly. The lack of competitiveness is more often a symptom than the cause of one or more underlying economic weaknesses. What is called for, then, is a comprehensive policy response that addresses the sources of the competitiveness problem, rather than targeted interventions designed directly to remedy the growing trade deficit. This Working Paper relates to the 2009 OECD Economic Survey of France (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/France).

English French

Keywords: France, growth potential, innovation, tax burden, OECD, firm, R&D, SMEs, export performance, trade deficit, competitiveness, market share, globalisation
JEL: I28: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Education: Government Policy; I23: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Higher Education; Research Institutions; F14: International Economics / Trade / Empirical Studies of Trade; O31: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights / Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives; O38: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights / Technological Change: Government Policy; F10: International Economics / Trade / Trade: General
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