France GDP Q1 2019


France: Domestic demand propels growth in Q1

May 31, 2019

France’s economy grew a seasonally-adjusted 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter, according to a comprehensive estimate released by the Statistical Institute (INSEE) on 29 May. Although first-quarter growth was unaltered from the preliminary estimate, revisions to last year’s fourth quarter—which was revised up to 0.4% from 0.3%—suggest that growth tapered somewhat at the outset of the year.

Household spending growth recovered somewhat in the aftermath of the ‘gilets jaunes’ political crisis (Q1: +0.4% qoq s.a.; Q4 2018: +0.3% qoq s.a.). Household investment, meanwhile, stagnated despite low interest rates, which offset rising business investment; overall, fixed investment growth slowed a bit (Q1: +0.5% qoq s.a.; Q4 2018: +0.6% qoq s.a.). For its part, government spending growth moderated in the quarter (Q1: +0.2% qoq s.a.; Q4 2018: +0.4% qoq s.a.).

Export growth slowed markedly (Q1: +0.4% qoq s.a.; Q4 2018: +2.0% qoq s.a.) on sluggish demand from the Eurozone’s other major players. Import growth, meanwhile, picked up (Q1: +1.4% qoq s.a.; Q4 2018: +1.1% qoq s.a.). Taken together, the external sector subtracted 0.3 percentage points from growth in the first quarter (Q4 2018: added 0.3 percentage points).

Commenting on the remainder of the year, Julien Manceaux, a senior economist at ING, noted:

“Looking at the first-quarter figures, it seems that domestic demand will still need some time to recover from the abnormal levels of anxiety recorded earlier in the year in consumer surveys. They still show a strong preference for savings and higher fears of unemployment than last year despite the resumption of job creation. Given the expected slowdown of the economic environment in Europe in 2019 and 2020, GDP growth should remain in these two years at a level close to its potential, 1.3%.”

FocusEconomics analysts expect the recent momentum to persist amid the ongoing recovery of domestic demand. Concerns have arisen, however, over existing trade squabbles and a slowdown across much of the Eurozone. Analysts see growth at 1.2% in 2019, which is unchanged from last month’s forecast, and at 1.3% in 2020.

Author:, Economist

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France GDP Chart

France GDP Q1  2019 2

Note: Quarter-on-quarter changes of seasonally-adjusted GDP and year-on-year variation in %.
Source: National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) and FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast.

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