The seasonally adjusted merchandise trade balance was in deficit to the tune of E4.69 billion in September. This was up from a smaller revised E4.19 billion in August but still comfortably below the levels seen earlier in the year.
The deterioration reflected a 0.3 percent monthly rise in exports that was easily more than offset by a 1.3 percent spurt in imports. The former found support from gains in refined petroleum products, aerospace products, chemicals and military equipment but suffered from weaker sales of metals and pharmaceuticals. Compared September 2016, exports were up 8.2 percent and imports 7.2 percent.
Mainly due to a poor July (E5.59 billion), the third quarter red ink stood at E14.44 billion, just a 0.4 percent drop on the previous quarter. However, versus its level a year ago the deficit was down nearly 12 percent. French exporters will be more than a little happy with the recent slide in the value of the euro.