For many decades, the United States and France have enjoyed strong economic, political and trade relations. Both members of NATO, the UN, the WTO, they are major international powers, respectively 1st and 6th since 1974. They are also two countries in the Triad (including Western Europe, North America and East Asia) which accounts for 52% of global GDP to date.
Foreign trade plays a major role in their respective economic systems, with trade in goods and services multiplying between the two countries: in 2015, US demand for imports of French products increased by 1.3%.
Buying French, a guarantee of quality for the United States
France is known and renowned all over the world for the quality of its products and its skilled workforce. It is seen as the land of luxury and refinement, and has many poles of excellence that attract importing countries. The United States is experiencing stronger economic growth than in France, with a depreciation of the euro against the dollar, which benefited French exporters. Uncle Sam’s country took the opportunity to import tricolour goods, with 2015 being the most significant year, with an increase of 19.5% over the previous year.
Some goods and services are the flagship of the French economy. Products that foreign countries, and the United States in particular appreciate.
France is the country of luxury. You only have to walk on the Champs Elysees to see that many nationalities rub shoulders close to the big brands, such as Chanel, Dior, Luis Vuitton or Yves Saint-Laurent, two French haute couture brands appreciated all over the world, whose models tread the catwalks around the world. Across the Atlantic, the import share on French clothing, leather goods and luxury jewellery is 29.9% (2011/2012 data). The increase is still constant in 2015, the fashion “French” is still renowned around the world. Moreover, in the cosmetics sector, France is the world market leader, especially with the sale of perfumes, which account for two thirds of the cosmetics it exports. In 2014, the export of cosmetics to the United States is up 7.6%, with among other things the success of the perfume “La Vie est Belle” by Lancôme, which has, as the muse for its commercials, the American actress Julia Roberts. (like other perfumes like Miss Dior with actress Natalie Portman…). An indicator that shows the intoxicating power of French perfumes across the Atlantic!
The New World, fond of the products of the Old Continent.
Having a client as important as the United States of America, for a country like France, is not neglected! After the economic crisis of 2008 which weakened all countries, a trade partnership between the American power and one of the largest powers of the European Union could restore the balance of trade, filling a little more the deficit of France (45.7 billion euros in 2015). French exporters have found that the depreciation of
the euro against the U.S. dollar would be an advantage for them in foreign trade with the United States, which is also one of the most notable advantages of exporting with the world’s leading power.
Americans love France and all goods and services bearing the red-white blue flag or the “Made In France” flag to which they attach importance, when looking for a quality product.
Pharmaceuticals are an important part of U.S. demand. Giants such as Sanofi do not hesitate to go to the United States in research and development processes, in order to develop in the laboratory treatments to cure diseases that affect the country (obesity, cancers, etc.). The group also generates a third of its sales,for a total turnover in 2013 of 33 billion euros.
But for France, one of the other major interests, in addition to the attraction of lthe Americans for French knowledge and productivity, is alsoto have a sustainable commercial partnership with many demands in large quantities.
The Bordeaux market and its international centres of excellence.
Bordeaux and the New Aquitaine region are in a strong growth dynamic, both within Europe and around the world. The Bordeaux region also has its poles of excellence that push exports around the world, especially towards the American market. Labeled French Tech, Bordeaux benefits from several sectors of activity that are on the international scene and which tends to export more and more in the coming years.
Bordeaux is of course famous for its wine. For the vast majority of foreigners, the “Sleeping Beauty” immediately evokes the great vintages, wineries and castles. A wine much appreciated by the United States: in 2015, the world’s leading power imported the equivalent of 203 million euros of wines from Bordeaux estates, and ranks as the fourth largest importer in the world. These imports represent no less than 179 thousand hectolitres, which shows that Americans love our region’s wine, which they prefer red. Their behaviour and consumption habits have changed a lot in recent years, they focus more on a quality wine, and not just on the names of domains benefiting from a high reputation.
In addition, the country with a population of 324 million is home to two types of consumerson the one hand, people aged 45 and over who tend to consume local wines (90% buy Wines from California), on the other hand the 21-35 age group, which represents just over 63 million people known as “millennials”, more attracted by foreign wines, especially Bordeaux, and which could pay a little more for the bottles given the renowned quality of French wines. 63 million inhabitants is almost the equivalent of the overall French population, and therefore a market that can take off the fields and the economy of Aquitaine.
Also in the agri-food sector, Cognac’s export Cognac to the United States soared in 2015, with the sale of 65.3 million bottles making it the world’s largest importer of Cognac.
The Caviar is also a world-famous luxury delicacy, the most famous and prestigious brand being Sturia, produced in Aquitaine. “Black gold”, already very courted by Japan begins its export to the United States where the brand has detected a strong development potential. It aims to reach 10% of the U.S. market within 5 years and increase its turnover by 8.5 million euros.
The deli is not left out: indeed, the producers of Bayonne Ham have detected potential in the U.S. market, very fond of sausage and ham, but still closed to the import of meat products. To facilitate the arrival of the product, the producers intend to highlight, as for caviar, the French quality and the unique know-how used to offer the best possible product. Since July 2015, Bayonne Ham has entered the U.S. market, and the Delpeyrat brand, which is the first to enter it, hopes to sell 250 tons within the next three years..
Finally, Bordeaux is at the heart of an unprecedented technological development, labelled French Tech in 2014, it multiplies travel abroad with its delegation of companies bathed in digital. The CES in Las Vegas is one of the world events where the “American Dream” could become the “Cocorico Dream”! It is taking place at the moment and is unveiling to the general public and journalists around the world the latest digital and hi-tech innovations around the world. French tech will be the largest delegation with no less than 190 companies including 21 companies from the Greater Region. A boon for the French, who could well win contracts, or at least arouse the curiosity of Americans in search of technology. Because yes, France is not left behind, let alone the Bordeaux region! The PARROT Group markets drones and other connected products in many countries around the world, including the United States. The Internet of Things is a booming market, like the connected key door released in 2014 by the Bordeaux brand Gablys, which makes it easy to find your keys thanks to your smartphone. The concept has worked internationally and it can be purchased on American soil (online).
The American market for Bordeaux is full of promise and opportunity, as it is a very large market, with a large clientele, attracted by the French Touch. There is no doubt that innovative products besides wines that have already dug their furrow in Franco-American exchanges will also have the right to a one-way trip to uncle Sam’s country!
Practical advice: what precautions to take, what risks to avoid when exporting to the United States?
Exporting its products to the largest market in the world, who wouldn’t?
The products are subject to strict regulations, which must be known above all export to the United States. When you leave the European Union, you have to go through customs and comply with American laws.
Here are some precautions to take if you are exporting to this country for the first time, and also the risks to avoid in order for everything to go well.
First, consider contacting the Chamber of Commerce near you, as well as the state or city in which you plan to export. This will allow you to receive sound advice from professionals who are familiar with the market and its intricacies. If you are worried about being confronted with the language barrier, you can hire an interpreter who will be the intermediary between you and the American customer, it is a solution that many companies choose, especially when trading with Asian or Eastern countries.
More and more business leaders are also moving to the country where they want to start exporting, to meet their interlocutors and see for themselves the market in which they will establish themselves. This is an opportunity to be aware of possible changes to products (especially in terms of packaging).
It is also the way to target the customers to reach who is not necessarily the same as you have in France, because the tastes of American customers are different, depending on age and purchasing power. To be able to successfully establish yourself, you need to be able to show customers why they can choose your product over a brand they know.
For example, if you want to export French wine, in addition to the many regulations related to customs controls on your goods, you will need to review the label of your bottles. Indeed, Americans do not understand appellations, they do not have this system in their country, which sells wine with a simplified and more readable label.
Don’t forget to mention that your products are French! Origin is crucial for Americans, who look carefully at the country of manufacture of the product before buying it.
And don’t forget to pack your products well before exporting them, because they will make a long journey, by plane, or boat, and risk being bumped and broken if they are not well protected.
The “Made In France” is well received in the United States, so why not display it with pride?
If you would like to know more about customs regulations for export to the United States, please visit the U.S. Customs websites.
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