France economy bounces back in third quarter

by AFP / pic by AFP

PARIS – Economic activity in France bounced back strongly in the third quarter following the lifting of the coronavirus lockdown, data showed on Friday, but the government still expects Europe’s second biggest economy to remain deep in recession for the year as a whole.

French gross domestic product expanded by 18.2 percent in the period from July to September compared with the preceding three months, the national statistics office Insee calculated in preliminary data. 

Nevertheless, economic output was “sharply lower than it had been before the crisis,” with GDP down by 4.3 percent on a year-on-year basis, the statisticians said. 

And while Insee did not provide a forecast for the fourth quarter, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire insisted that the country would remain mired in recession across the whole of 2020 as it re-enters lockdown to try to stem a second wave of virus infections.

The government is projecting economic contraction of 11 percent for this year, a slight downward revision from an earlier forecast of 10 percent, Le Maire told France Inter radio shortly after Insee published the third-quarter GDP data.

“It’s a moderate revision, simply because we’ve had a very strong third quarter,” he said. The French economy has considerable capacity to bounce back.” 

The recovery in GDP in the July-September period was driven primarily by a jump of 17.3 percent in household spending, Insee calculated.

Public spending also increased, investment rebounded sharply, and French exports jumped by 23.3 percent quarter-on-quarter, the data showed.