Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Aerospace is the most important segment of French manufacturing, and Wisconsin companies can contribute a larger share of U.S. exports to France in this category.
France is the sixth-largest economy worldwide and plays an important role in industry, trade and political integration within the European Union. In 2016, the French GDP grew by 1.1 percent, and the growth rate for 2017 is projected at 1.4 percent. The aerospace industry is the most important industrial sector, followed by the automotive and pharmaceutical sectors.
The aerospace sector in France generated annual revenue of €60.4 billion in 2016, of which €47.1 billion was part of the civil aerospace industry. This constitutes an increase of 4.1 percent over the prior year. Suppliers to the large aircraft producers increased their sales revenues by 4.7 percent in 2016. 2017 growth prospects are seen as positive, and the leading French company in the sector, Airbus Group, has reported 730 net aircraft orders for 2017 after delivering a record 688 aircrafts in 2016. The aerospace and aerospace defense industries rely heavily on foreign markets, with an export quota of 86 percent of their revenue in 2016. Due to growing wealth in Asia and the Middle East and higher defense spending in many countries, including the U.S., the growth prospects for the industry are promising, and an increase in orders is expected. Particularly interesting are manufacturing companies of new aircraft or engine models, or those involved with very technical products such as composites. In France, the aerospace industry is concentrated in three regional clusters hosting production, suppliers, R&D, and universities that specialize in engineering and related fields. These are the aerospace clusters Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, the aerospace valley around Toulouse, and the EMC2 cluster in Nantes.
As far as aerospace products are concerned, Wisconsin exported $5.1 million in aircraft, spacecraft and parts to France from January through August 2017—around 1 percent of all U.S. exports in this category. The ultimate total for the entire year is expected to top the $7.9 million worth of aircraft, spacecraft and parts that Wisconsin exported to France for the whole of 2016.
A visit to the International Paris Air Show, the most important fair of the aerospace industry, can provide a good platform to get to know the market. The next Paris Air Show will take place in 2019 from June 17-23. Other important fairs are the France Air Expo and the Toulouse Space Show, which both take place in June 2018.