President of the Republic
Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry
Minister of State for Foreign Trade, attached to the minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry
Minister of State, attached to the Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry, with responsibility for Industry
Keeper of the Seals
Minister of Justice Marylise LEBRANCHU
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Minister of Defence
National Assembly (Legislature):
Total 577 Deputies elected for a 5 year term.
Total 321 elected for a 9 year term on a rotating basis every 3 years.
France's economy combines modern capitalistic methods with extensive, but declining, government intervention. The government retains considerable influence over key segments of each sector, with majority ownership of railway, electricity, aircraft, and telecommunication firms. It has been gradually relaxing its control over these sectors since the early 1990s. The government is slowly selling off holdings in France Telecom, in Air France, and in the insurance, banking, and defense industries. Meanwhile, large tracts of fertile land, the application of modern technology, and subsidies have combined to make France the leading agricultural producer in Western Europe. Persistently high unemployment will continue to pose a major problem for the government; a 35-hour work week is being introduced. France has shied away from cutting exceptionally generous social welfare benefits or the enormous state bureaucracy, preferring to pare defense spending and raise taxes to keep the deficit down. France joined 10 other EU members to launch the euro on 1 January 1999.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $1.373 trillion (1999 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.7% (1999 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $23,300 (1999 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
services: 70.6% (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 0.5% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate: 11% (1999 est.)
revenues: $325 billion
expenditures: $360 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1999 est.)
Exports: $304.7 billion (f.o.b., 1999)
Imports: $280.8 billion (f.o.b., 1999)
Debt - external: $117.6 billion (1996 est.)
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $6.3 billion (1997)
France has raised serious objections to President Bush's unilateral denunciation of the Kyoto Protocol concerning the reduction of Greenhouse emissions. The EU leaders used the EU summit in Gothenburg to demonstrate their firm committment to the Kyoto initiative, and it is likely that this stance will be carried into the G8 Summit. France is making progress on its Kyoto protocol commitments with French Minister of the Environment, Dominique Voynet, announcing that 2000 levels are already 3-4% lower than those of 1990 whereas it has been estimated that American emissions have augmented by as much as 15% during the same period. France is also investigating the feasibility of 'ecotaxes' (taxes on polluting activities), and would like to see similar programs implemented in other G8 countries. In order to mitigate the economic costs of these programs, France will want them implemented multilaterally. France may seek a compromise of the Kyoto Protocol in order to encourage American participation.
France has enjoyed high growth and low inflation in the last several years. Although many G8 economies have witnessed reduced growth, France has not slowed as dramatically. The latest forecasts are 2.3%, down from earlier expectations and lower than previous years(2.7% in 1999). The job market has been performing well in recent years and new measures will continue to fight unemployment. To this end, legislation has been passed to reduce the work-week to 35 hours and to reform the unemployment insurance. There is a strong call for France to reduce its debt-to-GDP ratio. This would require an initially painful lowering of government spending. The constraint is, however, that Chirac is facing an election next year and job cuts would be unpopular.
The US proposal to scrap the ABM treaty of 1972 in order to build an anti-missile defense system has found France wary of the possible consequences. As a member of NATO, France realizes that one of the keys to stability are strategic balances. France believes that without these balances in a multi-polar and nuclear-capable world, there is a very real possibility of restarting an arms race. French President Jacques Chirac has stated that he would be very willing to participate in discussions on the NMD plan but is wary as the proposal was unilaterally declared and does not have the approval of either Russia nor China. This is a globally impacting discussion that France feels it must and will participate in although in the days leading up to the summit, European leaders have significantly lessened their public displeasure with the plan. However, France is unlikely to directly criticize Bush in the press so as to avoid public confrontation.
The meeting of the Foreign Ministers in Rome reaffirmed the multilateral commitment to the Mitchell Report. The Mitchell Report requires the involved governments oppose all extremism and terrorism, among other things, to cease the violence between Israelis and Palestinians. This will be a critical international issue for France. For that reason, it will press the United States not to disengage itself from the Middle East. The strength of the Report rests upon not only multilateral support, but also continuedand France will continue to be one of the strongest supporters.
Prepared by Serena Yoon and Jacob Young, University of Toronto G8 Research Group, June 2001.
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