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Access to and functioning of the market

France is a member of the European Union, the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It is a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, the Washington Convention, the Basel Convention, the Montreal Protocol and the International Coffee Agreement of 2001.

As a member of the European Economic Area since 1993, its goods can move freely between member countries. Nevertheless, in accordance with European customs policy, certain goods are tightly controlled and are subject to restrictions: for instance, agricultural goods strictly regulated, especially with regard to the presence of GMOs. It is also prohibited to export hormone-treated to France and the EU as a whole. Textiles are also subject to controls if they come from China, Belarus, North Korea, Kosovo, Uzbekistan or Montenegro. In terms of customs tariffs, they are on average 4% for non-European countries, and zero for intra-Community countries.

From an administrative point of view, if the imported market value does not exceed EUR 1 000, a simple verbal declaration and presentation of the invoice to customs will be sufficient. If the value is greater, a summary statement and a common law statement should be completed. For trade between Member States of the European Union, an Exchange of Goods declaration is necessary, and an Entry Summary Declaration is indispensable if the trade is with an extra-Community country (in accordance with the World Customs Organization’s SAFE standards).

The French distribution, wholesale and retail sector represents more than 500,000 businesses and a turnover of EUR 410 billion. Major retailers have a large presence in France and account for the majority of retail outlets, with nearly 5,500 supermarkets. Large-scale retailers moving into an area are regulated by the Royer and Raffarin laws to prevent the disappearance of local shops. The major groups on French territory are Carrefour, Auchan, Intermarché, Leclerc and Casino.

More than 2 billion tonnes of goods are transported annually by road, the country’s primary freight network. Nevertheless, waterways are being developed for transport and rail freight is growing in popularity. For international trade, maritime transport dominates through large ports like Marseille, Le Havre, Dunkerque, Calais or Rouen. Of the 15 largest European ports, five are located in France.

Links :
French customs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Trade
Fédération des Entreprises du Commerce et de la Distribution

Labour legislation

The legal duration of the working week in France is 35 hours, with a gross minimum wage of 9 EUR per hour. Retirement age is 67, but it is possible to retire as early as 62 if the employee has made sufficient social contributions. Social security contributions amount to 45% for the employer and 22% for the employee.

In France, the unions have a great influence and have a fairly high media profile, although the percentage of union members among employees is low (8%). The main unions are the CGT, CFDT, FO, CFTC, CFE – CGC, UNSA and USS.

Intellectual property

Type of rights

Text of Act

Validity of protection

Agreements signed


Intellectual property code

20 years

-Patent Cooperation Treaty
– Strasbourg Agreement Concerning the International Patent Classification


Intellectual property code

10 years, renewable indefinitely

– Nice Agreement on the International Classification of Goods and Services
-The Madrid Agreement concerning the International Registration of Marks


Intellectual property code

25 years, renewable once

Reproduction rights

Intellectual property code

50 to 70 years after the death of the author

– Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
– Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers
– WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
– WIPO Copyright Treaty
– Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms

Industrial designs

Decree No 2001-670 of 2001 on the adaptation to Community law of the intellectual property code and the postal and telecommunications code

25 years, renewable


Link :
Institut National de Propriété Industrielle

Political data

Executive power is held by the President of the Republic (François Hollande), elected by universal suffrage for five years. He appoints the Prime Minister (Jean-Marc Ayrault), who then forms his Government. Legislative power is held by Parliament, which consists of the National Assembly and the Senate.

The French political landscape is made up of many parties :

  • the UMP
  • the UDF
  • the MODEM
  • the FN
  • the PS
  • the Greens
  • the PC
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