23-Jan-2012

Kozy times for the French

Abstract

France is strong in industrial sectors, including telecoms, aerospace and defence, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and automobile production. As a leading exponent of nuclear energy, it has developed specialised contamination control knowhow. Per capita spending on medicines and healthcare is among the highest in Europe and it ranks among the top five largest medical device markets in the world. France is a large r&d spender, focused around innovation clusters dedicated to various industry sectors.

Microelectronic cleanroom for production of chips
Source: L. Godart/CEA, Grenoble

France has enjoyed strong support for scientific research facilities during Sarkozy’s tenure, which makes it a large market for cleanroom supplies, reports Susan Birks.

With a population of approximately 64 million, France is the world’s fifth largest economy by nominal figures and the second largest economy in Europe behind Germany, according to Wikipedia. France’s economy entered the current recession later than some parts of Europe, but its recent growth rates are now behind those of some of its neighbours and its triple A credit rating was recently downgraded.

While President Sarkozy has been centre stage of the political manoeuvring over the Euro debt crisis, he has struggled to introduce much needed measures at home that include a constitutional reform to put a ceiling on deficits and implement cuts in spending. The country’s socialist-leaning labour laws are relatively costly and lack the flexibility that is desirable for industries in today’s rapidly changing market. However, France has good productivity rates, a qualified workforce, strong infrastructure and good public services.

As one of the largest countries in Europe (674,843 km2), France is a major agricultural exporter – the world’s second largest – but it is strong in other areas too. Leading industrial sectors include telecoms, aerospace and defence, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and automobile production.

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