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Country Forecast France January 2018 Updater

Country Forecast France January 2018 Updater

  • January 2018
  • ID: 369829
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • The political landscape changed profoundly in 2017, with the president, Emmanuel Macron, who took office in May, coming to power at the head of a new centrist party, La République en marche (LRM). Mr Macron aims to repre-sent "both left and right", and as such has appointed a post-partisan government led by Édouard Philippe of Les Républicains, the main centre-right party.
  • LRM has a comfortable majority in the National Assembly (the lower house of parliament): over 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. He passed a flagship bill to liberalise the labour market by executive decree, and is now focused on reforming training and apprenticeships, and overhauling the social welfare system. The third plank of the reform plans concerns the tax system, with the aim of promoting job creation and investment.
  • France is benefiting from a cyclical upturn in the euro zone. The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates that real GDP growth accelerated to 1.9% in 2017-the strongest rate since 2011. We expect it to reach 2% this year as the rising employment rate and stronger real wage growth support private consumption, and as pent-up demand, reflected in a high capacity utilisation rate, spurs private investment.
  • We forecast average annual real GDP growth of 1.6% in 2019-20 as the external environment becomes less supportive and 1.7% in 2021-22 as business environment reforms start to bear fruit. The current-account deficit will slightly narrow as a share of GDP in 2021-22 as competitiveness gradually improves.
  • Stronger than expected growth is supporting fiscal consolidation. We estimate that the budget deficit narrowed to 2.9% of GDP in 2017 and forecast a 2.7% of GDP shortfall in 2018. Bringing the budget deficit back within the EU's 3% of GDP limit is a prerequisite for any serious consideration of Mr Macron's European reform ideas in Germany.
  • We estimate 1.2% EU harmonised consumer price inflation in 2017, reflecting the recovery in global oil prices. We forecast 1.5% inflation in 2018 and an annual average of 1.6% in 2019-22 as domestic demand pressures strengthen.

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