In accordance with its European Union membership, France applies the European Union (EU) rules that are in force in all the European Union countries. While the EC has a rather liberal foreign trade policy, there is a certain number of restrictions, especially on farm products, following the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): the application of compensations on import and export of farm products, to favour the development of the agriculture within the EC, implies a certain number of control and regulation systems of the goods entering the EU territory.
Moreover, for sanitary reasons, regarding Genetically Modified Organisms (after being allowed in the European territory), their presence should be systematically specified on packagings. Beef cattle bred on hormones is also forbidden to import.
The BSE crisis (often called the "mad cow disease") urged the European Authorities to strengthen the phytosanitary measures to make sure of the quality of meats entering and circulating in the EU territory. The principle of precaution is now widespread: in case of doubt, the import is prohibited until proof is made of the non-harmfullness of products.
France is one of the leading organisers of professional exhibitions and trade fairs. Each city has a Chamber of Commerce and Industry whose responsibility is to contact local companies. The business intermediaries could be distributors, agents or salaried representatives. A distributor (or a concessionary) is an individual or legal entity directly purchasing goods from a manufacturer in order to resell them. The distributor operates individually and is liable only to purchase a minimum stock of supplies as per the terms of the agreement. This agreement is subject to certain rules and regulations concerning exclusive distribution rights and pricing. Unlike distributors, agents do not buy products for resale but rather work on commission. A commercial agent is independent and has "freedom of movement" whereas a representative is bound by the work contract.
Excise duties are also levied on certain products, especially on spirit.
>> To get further information on the VAT rates in France, please check the list of vat rates applied within the European Union (October 2003), as well as the Ministry of Finances web site.
>> To get further information on Excise duties, please check the European Union excise duty tables (December 2003).