France and its trade with the UK

Graham Charles Lear
3 min readFeb 18, 2020


On the UK’s list of ‘best trade partners’, France comes 222nd out of 236 countries

Figures show why the French Foreign Minister is unwise to be threatening “la guerre” on the UK

Le Drian and Macron should pick a different foe to distract the French public from troubles at home

Readers will no doubt have seen media reports of the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, giving a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, where he said that the EU and UK would “rip each other apart” in trade talks.

Naturally, the BBC gave this coverage while giving far less to the news about the Gulf countries wanting a trade deal with the UK. I will report on this latter subject as soon as I can.

The latest official trade figures from the ‘2019 Pink Book’ published by the Office of National Statistics. I looked at trade in goods, trade in services, and at the surpluses and deficits. In particular, I looked at France, the UK’s nearest neighbour. What I found was very interesting. The UK’s closest neighbour is its 222nd remotest friend when it comes to trade.

France and its trade with the UK

UK’s closest neighbour comes 222nd out of 236 countries, on the trade balance

France has a goods trade surplus with the UK of nearly £5bn per year

The UK’s strength in services only lowers France’s total goods and services surplus by £1.9bn

France earns from its trade with the UK

The EU27 countries as a whole earn from their trade with the UK

In the latest figures, the EU27’s surplus on the trade of goods and services with the UK was £66.4 billion for 2018

Just as in Angela Merkel’s Germany, Emmanuel Macron’s France’s ruling party is in big trouble. The French President’s En Marche now trails Marine le Pen’s Rassemblement Nationale in the polls, and the ‘gilets jaunes’ demonstrations across French cities have not gone away.

When politicians are in trouble at home, the ‘go-to’ tactic is to drive up nationalist fervour against an external enemy. Perish the thought that President Macron and his chum Jean-Yves Le Drian would ever resort to trying to use the French people’s strong nationalist instincts… but if the beret fits perhaps it should be worn.

Fortuitously the UK Government’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost, gave a speech at a Brussels university the day after Foreign Minister Le Drian gave his speech in Munich. In it, Mr Frost made perfectly clear that the EU needs to comprehend what Brexit means.

“It is central to our vision that we must have the ability to set laws that suit us — to claim the right that every other non-EU country in the world has.“So to think that we might accept EU supervision on so-called level playing field issues simply fails to see the point of what we are doing.

We have a vision.

From farming and fisheries to energy and climate. From controlling freedom of movement to opening up the freedom of speech and thought. From enterprise, finance and manufacturing to all of that plus the emergence of a world centre of excellence for robotics and artificial intelligence. From an indoctrinated youth to an explosion of joyous new thinking. From a still-uncomprehending Westminster ‘elite’ to a truly-representative body, enacting the wishes of the people.

Most of all, from a muffled voice in a grey, protectionist, and totalitarian EU to a challenging, visionary, and inspiring voice on the world stage. THAT IS OUR VISION and we are going to make that vision come true.

[ Sources: Office for National Statistics Pink Book 2019 | MSC ]



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.