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Country Forecast France June 2018 Updater

Country Forecast France June 2018 Updater

  • June 2018
  • ID: 360608
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • In May 2017 the president, Emmanuel Macron, came to power as the head of a new centrist party, La République en marche (LRM). Mr Macron aims to represent "both left and right", and as such has appointed a post-partisan government led by Édouard Philippe of Les Républicains, the centre-right party.
  • LRM has a comfortable majority in the National Assembly (the lower house of parliament); more than 70% of the seats belong to the party and its centrist ally, Mouvement démocrate (MoDem). Opposition from the mainstream parties is limited; the Parti socialiste (PS) has only 31 seats (out of 577) and Les Républicains is deeply split, with a small "constructive group" supporting LRM.
  • Mr Macron is therefore well placed to implement his ambitious reform agenda. In September 2017 he passed a flagship bill to liberalise the labour market, and he is now focused on three specific areas: moving the social welfare system towards a Nordic-style "flexicurity" model; promoting investment via changes to the tax system; and overhauling immigration policy.
  • France is benefiting from a cyclical upturn in the euro zone, and real GDP growth accelerated to 2.3% in 2017. The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts 1.8% growth this year as real wage growth supports private consumption, and pent-up demand spurs investment growth (albeit at a slower rate than in 2017).
  • We forecast average annual real GDP growth of 1.7% in 2019-22, with the current phase of business environment reforms starting to bear fruit towards the end of our forecast period (2018-22). The current-account deficit will remain broadly stable throughout our forecast period, at about 1% of GDP.
  • Stronger economic growth is supporting fiscal consolidation. The budget deficit narrowed to 2.6% of GDP in 2017, bringing it within the EU's limit of 3% of GDP for the first time in a decade. We forecast a shortfall of 2.4% of GDP in 2018, with consolidation continuing at a slower pace thereafter.
  • We forecast consumer price inflation of 1.8% in 2018 (on the EU harmonised measure) and an annual average of 1.6% in 2019-22. Rising global oil prices will support price growth this year, with domestic demand pressures strengthening gradually. We expect the European Central Bank (ECB) to bring its asset-purchase programme to an end later this year, with the first rate rise in early 2020.

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