In 2009, France’s export volumes amounted to $456. 8 billion and the country ranked 6th in the world. However, the figures were much higher in 2008 at $601. 9 billion. France’s main export commodities are: •Machinery •Transportation equipment •Aircraft •Plastics •Chemicals •Pharmaceutical products •Iron and steel •Beverages France’s main export partners are: Germany •Italy •Spain •UK •Belgium •US •The Netherlands • Besides French trade, tourism is a big contributor to the national GDP.In fact, France rules the tourism industry with over 82 million tourists visiting the country for its rich heritage and culture. Agriculture is another strong point for France, with almost 25% of the EU’s total agricultural products being produced here. The government provides subsidies to the agricultural sector and the development of this sector is likely to give export activities a further boost. France GDP 201034092. 2591. 97 % Source: International Monetary Fund – 2010 World Economic Outlook France – Foreign trade ________________________________________Leading French exports, by major categories, are capital goods (machinery, heavy electrical equipment, transport equipment, and aircraft), consumer goods (automobiles, textiles, and leather), and semi-finished products (mainly chemicals, iron, and steel). Major imports are fuels, machinery and equipment, chemicals and paper goods, and consumer goods. The French trade balance was favorable in 1961 for the first time since 1927, but after 1961 imports rose at a higher rate than exports. Trade deficits generally increased until the 1990s. From 1977 to 1985, the trade deficit nearly tripled.Among factors held responsible were heavy domestic demand for consumer products not widely produced in France, narrowness of the range of major exports, and a concentration on markets not ripe for expansion of exports from France, notably the EU and OPEC countries. In the following years a growing change in the trade balance developed, and the deficit narrowed appreciably in 1992. By 1995, France had a trade surplus of $34 billion. In all, France is the world’s fourth largest exporter of goods and the second largest provider of services and agriculture.France is the largest producer and exporter of farm products in Europe. Garnering the highest revenues of export commodities from France are transport machinery, including automobiles, vehicle parts, and aircraft (12. 5%). French wine, perfumes, and cosmetics represent about a quarter each of the world market in their respective categories. The top ten exports in 2000 were as follows: % OF COUNTRY TOTAL Automobiles 6. 4 Aircraft 5. 5 Motor vehicle parts and accessories 4. 1 Telecommunications equipment 3. 9 Iron and steel 3. 3 Medicinal and pharmaceutical products 3. 4Office machines, automatic data processing equipment 3. 3 Alcoholic beverages 2. 4 Textiles 2. 3 Perfumery and cosmetics 1. 9 In 2000 France’s imports were distributed among the following categories: Consumer goods 16. 7% Food 6. 8% Fuels 9. 8% Industrial supplies 27. 1% Machinery 23. 9% Transportation 15. 6% Other 0. 1% Principal trading partners in 2000 (in millions of US dollars) were as follows: COUNTRY EXPORTS IMPORTS BALANCE Germany 45,500 50,388 -4,888 United Kingdom 29,755 24,763 4,992 Spain 29,234 21,120 8,114 Italy 26,945 27,051 -106 United States 26,543 27,364 -821 Belgium 20,956 20,772 184Netherlands 13,223 14,896 -1,673 Switzerland 10,075 7,019 3,056 China (inc. Hong Kong) 5,250 9,867 -4,617 Japan 5,099 11,751 -6,652 Read more: Foreign trade – France – export http://www. nationsencyclopedia. com/Europe/France-FOREIGN-TRADE. html#ixzz1Ga3NZtRp Government, the Constitution and politics in France A succinct guide to the institutions of power in France Most recent page update; September 2010 The French Constitution: France is a republic; the institutions of governance of France are defined by the Constitution, more specifically by the current constitution, being that f the Fifth Republic. The Constitution has been modified several times since the start of the Fifth Republic, most recently in July 2008, when the French “Congress” (A joint con vention of the two chambers of Parliament) approved – by 1 vote over the 60% majority required – constitutional changes proposed by President Sarkozy. The Fifth Republic: The fifth republic was established in 1958, and was largely the work of General de Gaulle – its first president, and Michel Debre his prime minister.It has been amended 17 times. Though the French constitution is parliamentary, it gave relatively extensive powers to the executive (President and Ministers) compared to other western democracies. The executive branch: The head of state and head of the executive is the President, elected by universal suffrage. Originally, a president of the Fifth Republic was elected for a 7-year term (le septennat), renewable any number of times. Since 2002 the President has been elected for a 5-year term (le quinquennat).Since the passing of the 2008 Constitutional reform, the maximum number of terms a president can serve has been limited to two. The President, who is also supreme commander of the military, determines policy with the aid of his Council of Ministers (Conseil des ministres). The residence of the President of the French Republic is the Elysee Palace (le palais de l’Elysee) in Paris. The President appoints a prime minister (currently Francois Fillon) , who forms a government. The residence of the French Prime Minister is at Matignon House (l’Hotel Matignon) in Paris.In theory ministers are chosen by the PM; in practice unless the President and the PM are from different sides of the political spectrum (a system known as la cohabitation), PM and president work together to form a government. The President must approve the appointment of government ministers. The cabinet, le Conseil des ministres, meets on a weekly basis, and is presided over by the president. Ministers determine policy and put new legislation before Parliament in the form of bills (projets de loi); within the framework of existing law, they apply policy through decrees (decrets). The legislative branch:The French parliament is made up of two houses or chambers. The lower and principal house of parliament is the Assemblee nationale, or national assembly; the second chamber is the Senat or Senate. Members of Parliament, called Deputes, are elected by universal suffrage, in general elections (elections legislatives) that take place every five years. Senators are elected by “grand electors”, who are mostly other local elected representatives. The electoral system for parliamentary elections involves two rounds; a candidate can be elected on the first round by obtaining an absolute majority of votes cast.The second round is a runoff between two or more candidates, usually two.. The judicial branch: While the Minister of Justice, le Garde des Sceaux, has powers over the running of the justice system and public prosecutors, the judiciary is strongly independent of the executive and legislative branches. The official handbook of French civil law is the Code Civil. Promulgation of laws: New bills (projets de loi), proposed by government, and new pivate members bills (propositions de loi) must be approved by both chambers, before becoming law. However, by virtue of Article 49. of the French constitution, a government can override parliamentary opposition and pass a law without a parilimentary vote. This does not happen frequently, and in the framework of constitutional amendments, president Sarkozy has curtailed the possibility of using 49. 3. Laws and decrees are promulgated when the official text is published in the Official Journal of the French Republic, le Journal Officiel. The Constitutional Council The Constitutional Council , le Conseil constitutionnel, exists to determine the constitutionality of new legislation or decrees.It has powers to strike down a bill before it passes into law, if it is deemed unconstitutional, or to demand the withdrawal of decrees even after promulgation. The Council is made up of nine members, appointed (three each) by the President of the Republic, the leader of the National Assembly, and the leader of the Senate, plus all surviving former heads of state. Political parties; In 2010, France is governed by Conservatives. The main political parties are: On the right: The Popular Union Movement (UMP – Union pour un Mouvement Populaire), of which Nicolas Sarkozy was leader before becoming President.The UMP has a majority in the National Assembly. Centre right: the New Centre (Nouveau Centre) Centre left: The Democratic Movement (Mouvement Democratique, MoDem) On the left: the Socialist party (Parti Socialiste, PS) – the main opposition party. The French Communist Party (parti Communiste Francais – PCF). The Green Party (Les Verts) (See more detailed article: Political parties in France) France also has some surprisingly resiliant extremist parties on the left and on the right, including the Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue communiste revolutionnaire) and the Workers’ Party (Lutte ouvriere), and the National Front (Front National).