Scotland: a trading nation

A plan for growing Scotland's exports.


Country Brief

France is home to world leading companies in many innovative industries, such as the energy sector. France’s leading electricity company, Electricite de France, is the largest utility company in the world. France is the most visited country in the world so tourism is a key component of the economy.

Key market information

Economic indicators  

GDP 2017*


GDP per capita 2017*


GDP annual growth rate 2013-2017


GDP annual growth forecast 2018-2023




Projected population growth 2017-2050 (% change)


Average tariff 2016


Scotland's exports to France


Scotland’s exports to France 2017


Average annual growth in Scotland’s exports to France 2013-2017


Country rank in Scotland’s exports 2017


Scotland's Top Export Sectors to France

Scotland's Top Export Sectors to France, 2017

France imports from the world


France goods and services imports 2017*


France average annual Import growth 2013-2017*


France Top15 Import Sectors

Top 15 Import Sectors - France

Sources: Economic indicators (World Bank, IMF World Economic Outlook), Scotland’s Exports (Export Statistics Scotland 2017), Country Imports (World Bank, UN Comtrade).

* denotes an indicator which has been converted into GB£ from US$ using the Bank of England’s average annual spot rate data. Note growth rates may vary depending on unit of currency used.

The French Economy

France has the world’s 6th largest economy (IMF, 2018). It has the 3rd largest economy in the European Union after Germany and the United Kingdom. France is a large, open and diversified market, and is within easy reach of Scotland and offers opportunities to sell Scottish products and services across all sectors. France has a similar market to Scotland with similar business risks. The chemical industry is a key sector for France.

Key economic indicators are:

  • The French economy is growing moderately at 1.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018. (OECD)
  • Exports as a % of France’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) were 31% in 2018. (OECD)
  • France has a relatively high unemployment rate at 9.4% in 2017. (OECD) 

France is a member of the European Union (EU), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international bodies. Goods manufactured in Scotland are exempt from import duties. 

The Department for International Trade’s guide to doing business in France can be found here.

Strengths of the French market

France ranks 32nd out of 190 countries in the World Bank rankings for ease of doing business in 2018.

  • Strong legal system
  • Low regulatory barriers
  • Very developed economy

Benefits for Scottish businesses exporting to France

  • High standard of living
  • Open market
  • Close to Scotland
  • Diverse economy

What Scotland exports to France

France is Scotland’s third largest export market worth £2.4 bn in 2017. This represents 7.5% of Scotland’s total International exports. (Export Statistics Scotland)

The top 5 Scottish export sectors to France are:

  • Food and Drink
  • Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing
  • Financial and business services
  • Life and Chemical Sciences
  • Retail

Priority sectors in France for economic development include:

  • Machinery
  • Chemical sciences
  • Transport equipment
  • Financial and Business Services

Sectoral Opportunities

When compared to the export performance of comparator countries (Norway, Finland, Ireland and Denmark), France presents potential export opportunities in the following subsectors: • Chemical Sciences

  • Metal manufacturing
  • Transport equipment
  • Textiles

Infographic showing top opportunities in France

Existing in-market support for Scottish businesses in France

Scottish Government Network of External Offices and Scottish Development International

The Scottish Government opened an office in Paris in the Autumn of 2018. The office is a central point for the Scottish Government to engage across France and adds to the existing network of SG offices in Europe (London, Dublin, Berlin, Brussels).

As well as strengthening diplomatic relations it also increases the potential to explore further research and innovation links. 

The office jointly houses Scottish Government and Scottish Development International staff. Co-locating helps to make the connections between policy priorities and trade and investment delivery. The office is located at 16 Rue d’Anjou in central Paris. 

SDI has 4 members of staff in Paris focused on the energy, science and technology and consumer industry sectors. 


There are currently 8 GlobalScots in France covering a rage of sectors, including energy, financial business services, food & drink, life sciences, technology & engineering and tourism. France is a priority country for expansion of the GlobalScot network.

Department for International Trade

Contact the Department for International Trade team in France for more information and advice on opportunities for doing business in France.

The Franco-British Chamber of Commerce & Industry creates opportunities and connects people to assist members to promote and to develop their activity within the Franco-British business community. The chamber has developed a strong network of public and private partners both in France and in Britain. Their office is based in Paris with regional delegates in Dordogne, Toulouse et Midi-Pyrénées, Burgundy and Monaco.

University Links

France is one of the top 5 global collaborators in international research with Scotland.  Université Paris Saclay and Université Pierre et Marie Curie are in Scotland’s top 5 academic international collaborators. (Scottish Science Advisory Council report 2019, pg. 57).

For example in humanoid robotics with a consortium, including the University of Glasgow and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique– known as the Multi-Modal Mall Entertainment Robot (MuMMER).

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