France, GCC meet amid 18 bil­lion euro trade bal­ance

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

PARIS: The French cap­i­tal hosts to­day the Third French-GCC Fo­rum to dis­cuss prospects of en­hanc­ing mu­tual trade ex­changes, es­ti­mated at euro 18 bil­lion in 2015. Con­fer­ees are sched­uled to dis­cuss dur­ing the day-long fo­rum, to be held at head­quar­ters of the French-Arab Cham­ber of Com­merce, mu­tual in­vest­ments and com­mer­cial co­op­er­a­tion.

The event will in­volve two work­shops, themed “role of sov­er­eign funds and fund­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions in fi­nanc­ing small and medium en­ter­prise,” and “the French-Gulf co­op­er­a­tion in health and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.”

France en­joys sold eco­nomic ties with Kuwait, Saudi Ara­bia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. The Euro­pean na­tion plays a key and dy­namic role at the re­gional and in­ter­na­tional lev­els, with 40 per­cent of the globe petroleum re­serves and pro­duces 30 per­cent of the world daily out­put of con­sumed oil. More­over, its an­nual growth rates are higher than those posted in other mem­ber States of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment (OECD).

Ac­cord­ing to records of the French-GCC Cham­ber of Com­merce, GCC ex­ports to the Euro­pean na­tion grew by 17 per­cent, in 2015, reach­ing euro 18 bil­lion, with a sur­plus in fa­vor of France ex­ceed­ing euro four bil­lion. Although the French-GCC com­mer­cial ex­changes have been neg­a­tively affected with bear­ish oil prices, Paris is seek­ing to boost the eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion with the Gulf coun­tries in var­i­ous sec­tors, namely in­fra­struc­ture.

Kuwait

As to the French eco­nomic ties with the State of Kuwait, the French For­eign Min­istry records showed that the bi­lat­eral trade ex­changed rose 31 per­cent, in 2015, reach­ing euro 1.7 bil­lion, against euro 1.3 bil­lion in 2014, thus trans­form­ing the trade ex­changes’ deficit, recorded at euro 257 mil­lion, into a sur­plus val­ued at euro 510 mil­lion.

The French-GCC co­op­er­a­tion at this level climbed due to sales of air­craft and trans­port equip­ment, es­ti­mated at euro 733 mil­lion last year, compared to euro 114 mil­lion in 2014. France de­liv­ered to Kuwait the sec­ond batch of Air­bus planes in 2015, in line with a euro 1.3 bil­lion deal signed in 2013. France ranked 10th among ex­port­ing coun­tries to Kuwait, in 2014, after Ger­many, South Korea, In­dian and Italy.

It is also the 13th among the coun­tries that im­port oil from Kuwait — 97 per­cent of the Kuwaiti ex­ports to the Euro­pean coun­try, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures by the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF). France’s im­ports from Kuwait no­tice­ably dropped in 2015, amount­ing to euro 604 mil­lion compared to euro 754 mil­lion in 2014, drop­ping by 20 per­cent, largely due to the oil prices’ cri­sis. Although the French stake in the Kuwaiti mar­ket dropped in the first decade of the 21st cen­tury, it had re­mained at three per­cent since 2014, compared to 6.3 per­cent in 1994.

Saudi Ara­bia

Turn­ing to the French-Saudi eco­nomic ties, the co­op­er­a­tion has re­cently grown. Re­gional ten­sion since 2011 has helped in boost­ing Paris’ im­port of the Saudi crude oil mak­ing up for stop­page of im­ports from Libya and slow rise of ex­ports from Iraq, in ad­di­tion to the deficit in the French trade bal­ance, amount­ing to euro 2.6 bil­lion in 2013.

Although the French-Saudi ex­changes dropped in 2015, reach­ing some euro eight bil­lion compared to euro 12 bil­lion in 2014, the King­dom has re­mained the top com­mer­cial part­ner for France in the Gulf and the sec­ond at the Mid­dle East level.

Saudi of­fi­cial fig­ures showed that Paris was the eighth com­mer­cial part­ner for the King­dom in 2015, where the com­mer­cial ex­changes ac­counted to 2. 6 per­cent of the King­dom’s ex­ter­nal ex­changes.

France ranked the 10th among im­port­ing na­tions from Saudi Ara­bia in 2015, where value of the King­dom’s ex­ports amounted to some euro four bil­lion, while French im­ports reached five bil­lion, cov­er­ing oil, in­fra­struc­ture, nu­clear en­ergy and de­fense.

UAE

For its part, the UAE is France’s main mar­ket in the Gulf. The GCC coun­try came fourth among na­tions that bol­stered the French com­mer­cial sur­plus in 2015. It is the sec­ond after Riyadh among the Gulf com­mer­cial part­ners for France. UAE took 30.7 per­cent of French sales in the Gulf last year, slightly drop­ping by seven per­cent compared to 37.7 per­cent in 2014. French ex­ports to the UAE amounted to euro 3.8 bil­lion in 2015, in con­trast to euro 1.09 bil­lion worth of UAE im­ports the same year.

Con­sumer goods, ex­cept for agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, top the list of French ex­ports to the UAE, ac­count­ing to 30.2 per­cent, fol­lowed by man­u­fac­tured com­modi­ties, 29.05, trans­port equip­ment, 5.14 per­cent, which dropped by 54.4 per­cent in 2014 reach­ing 28.5 per­cent.

UAE oil prod­ucts topped the Gulf coun­try’s ex­ports to France in 2015, ac­count­ing to 74 per­cent, euro 808.5 mil­lion, ris­ing by 11.5 per­cent as compared to 2014, fol­lowed by alu­minum, euro 99 mil­lion. UAE in­vest­ments in France constitute up to 40 per­cent of busi­nesses from the Mid­dle East. They were val­ued at euro 4.9 bil­lion in 2013 compared to euro 1.6 bil­lion in 2012. Most of the UAE in­vest­ments are in stocks, bonds and prop­erty.

Qatar

As to Qatar, France’s trade ex­change with the Gulf coun­try rose by two bil­lion eu­ros in 2015 compared to one bil­lion euro in 2010. French ex­ports to Qatar are fore­cast to soar to the high­est level since 10 years ago, buoyed by a 300 per­cent hike in the first eight months of 2015, reach­ing euro 1.58 bil­lion, in­clud­ing euro 463 mil­lion worth of ex­ports of man­u­fac­tured com­modi­ties-ex­cept for aerial equip­ment. French en­ter­prises in Qatar no­tice­ably rose in the past years, par­tic­u­larly in aerial in­dus­tries, wa­ter treat­ment, con­struc­tion and ar­ma­ment. Num­ber of French com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in Qatar reached 294, in­clud­ing 66 firms with full French own­er­ship and 228 ones in part­ner­ship with the Qataris. France is a key in­vest­ment mar­ket for Qatar. Bulk of the Qatari busi­nesses are in stocks, prop­erty and lux­u­ri­ous ho­tels.

Bahrain and Oman

France’s ex­ports to Bahrain rose, in 2013, by 70 per­cent after de­liv­ery of two Air­bus air­craft, worth euro 111 mil­lion, to Manama. To­tal French ex­ports to Manama reached 235 mil­lion eu­ros. Last April, the Bahraini Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Coun­cil de­clared that the trade bal­ance amounted to some euro 240 mil­lion, compared to euro 180 mil­lion in 2012.

Oil and alu­minum constitute bulk of the Bahraini ex­ports to France.

The bal­ance of trade be­tween France and Oman was at euro 700 mil­lion dur­ing the past decade. The ex­changes rose in 2013 to euro 584.5 mil­lion but sta­bi­lized in 2015 at euro 518 mil­lion. — KUNA

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