Creative Industries France

Global Development France at Red Yellow Blue (RYB)

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Cultural and creative industries

Economic and reputational issues
French cultural and creative industries (CCI), which generate substantial export revenue, also contribute to the development of tourism in France and to the attractiveness of the French university system.

The State and sector professionals have joined forces to support exports of cultural goods and services, mainly via certain specialised agencies (BIEF, BEMF, Unifrance Films).

Added to this economic consideration is the issue of France’s reputation and influence abroad, sustained by the soft diplomacy promoted by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in conjunction with the Institut Français and the French cultural network abroad.

The cultural industries in France and Europe: Points of Reference and Comparison

by Roxane Laurent

In both the cultural industries and the rest of the economy, France’s economic profitability is lower than that of Europe
The dominant cultural industries varies from one country to another. Just as business size, profitability and productivity varies from one sector to the another, the national structure of cultural industry production has an influence on the level of these economic performance indicators: for example, newspaper publishing companies are on average ten times larger than audiovisual production companies; therefore the average size of cultural businesses in the country where publishing predominates will be higher than that of a country where the audiovisual sector commands a comparable share.

One of the most commonly-used indicators of economic profitability is the profit margin, whereby the gross operating surplus is equated with value-added, i.e. measuring the percentage of value-added achieved by businesses after taking into account salary costs and taxes on production.

Across all economic sectors (industry, services, trade), the margin rate of French businesses falls below the European average. This is a well-known and enduring result, which is, on the one hand, explained by the large proportion of salaried work (in comparison with other countries such as Italy, where unsalaried employment is far more frequent in such sectors), and, on the other hand, by costs relating to production issues, both capital (through taxes on production) and labour (essentially non-salary -related costs, aimed at maintaining the French social welfare model).

The cultural industries are no exception: average French margin rates (30%) are far lower than the European average (41%). The lower performance of the French cultural industries is not down to the particular structure of the sectors in France, in which the audiovisual predominates, as the margin rate in this sector is higher than that of other French cultural sectors. For any given sector (books and press, audiovisual, advertising agencies), the French profit margin is invariably lower than the European average, with the exception of motion pictures and television programmes.


high-income, advanced and diversified EU economy and euro user; strong tourism, aircraft manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and industrial sectors; ongoing pension reform protests; high public debts and COVID-19 spending increases; global environmental leader

Diversified modern market economy with government presence in several strategic sectors; maintains social equality by laws and by tax and spending policies; most-visited nation on earth.

The French economy is diversified across all sectors. The government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, including Air France, France Telecom, Renault, and Thales. However, the government maintains a strong presence in some sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defense industries. France is the most visited country in the world with 89 million foreign tourists in 2017. France’s leaders remain committed to a capitalism in which they maintain social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that mitigate economic inequality.

France’s real GDP grew by 1.9% in 2017, up from 1.2% the year before. The unemployment rate (including overseas territories) increased from 7.8% in 2008 to 10.2% in 2015, before falling to 9.0% in 2017. Youth unemployment in metropolitan France decreased from 24.6% in the fourth quarter of 2014 to 20.6% in the fourth quarter of 2017.

France’s public finances have historically been strained by high spending and low growth. In 2017, the budget deficit improved to 2.7% of GDP, bringing it in compliance with the EU-mandated 3% deficit target. Meanwhile, France’s public debt rose from 89.5% of GDP in 2012 to 97% in 2017.

Since entering office in May 2017, President Emmanuel MACRON launched a series of economic reforms to improve competitiveness and boost economic growth. President MACRON campaigned on reforming France’s labor code and in late 2017 implemented a range of reforms to increase flexibility in the labor market by making it easier for firms to hire and fire and simplifying negotiations between employers and employees. In addition to labor reforms, President MACRON’s 2018 budget cuts public spending, taxes, and social security contributions to spur private investment and increase purchasing power. The government plans to gradually reduce corporate tax rate for businesses from 33.3% to 25% by 2022.

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