News from France – 31.1.2021

A weekly review of News from France

This is News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 31 January:

The focus for this week was:

management of the Covid 19 virus

its effects on the economy

and other business news.

A further 400 thousand people were vaccinated against the virus this week – while the daily rate of new cases remains around 20 thousand.

The 6pm to 6am curfew continues while new measures include the closing of the country’s 400 largest shopping malls (+20,000 square meters). While the food stores inside the malls will remain open, the non-food stores are to close as from today, Sunday.

France has also closed its borders for visitors from countries outside the European Union as the government takes measures short of announcing another complete lock down.

The effects of the virus on the economy became clear this week as the national statistics office (INSEE) reported an 8.3 percent fall in GDP (produit intérieur brut PIB). The recession is the worst since the Second World War. Unemployment stands at 9 percent.

The car industry in France reported a weaker outlook. France produces just under one in ten of passenger cars made in Europe according to the French Federation of Vehicle Equipment Industries. (Fédération des industries des équipements pour véhicules (Fiev). Germany produces about one in four.

In 2020 about one and a half million passenger cars (véhicules légers) were produced in France. Over the last 15 years, China has become the world’s largest producer with some 23 million cars produced there each year.

This month, the Peugeot-Citroën group formally merged with Fiat Chrysler under the new name of “Stellantis” with headquarters in Amsterdam.

This week, rail manufacturer Alstom completed its multibillion (5.5 billion-euro) acquisition of Bombardier Transportation.

As a result, it becomes the world’s second largest rail company behind Chinese state-owned CRRC.

After a merger between Alstom and Germany’s Siemens was blocked by the EU commission in 2019, there was no such opposition to the French company acquiring Bombardier.

Alstom will gain better access to North American markets and innovations such as the monorail “people mover” developed by Bombardier. For its part, the Canadian company is to focus on building private jets.

This has been News from France, a weekly review in English, today Sunday 31 January 2021.

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