General overview

France went on a strict lockdown on 17 March, which is likely to be extended until 28 April. Schools and universities previously closed on 16 March.

On 22 March the French parliament declared COVID-19 a health emergency and granted greater powers to the government to fight the pandemic.

Non-essential retailers are closed nationwide until further notice, including non-food shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. Citizens are not allowed to leave their homes unless they are carrying out permitted activities such as grocery shopping or attending medical appointments.

French news agencies Radio France International and France 24 also provide the latest information on COVID-19 in France.

Economic situation

Government and business response

The French government has announced a €300 billion cash support to French businesses affected by COVID-19.

This support includes covering salaries of employees who are self-isolating and not able to work from home, specific measures for small businesses (rentals, electricity and gas payment suspensions), and the postponement of all tax payments this quarter from April to July. Tax cancellations are to be confirmed. Read the official announcement from France's Ministry of Economy and Finance (French language).

Business continuity plans are being implemented by banks and businesses to try to maintain a minimum level of activity. Banks are being asked to provide loans to businesses with a French Government guarantee.

Advice to exporters

In terms of immediate activity, make the safety and well-being of teams your priority, and invest as needed to ensure a safe and healthy working environment. Many businesses are allowing employees to work from home where this is possible. Check in with your business partners and see how they are doing and how you might be able to support them during this time.

The French government is advising businesses to stay open, and for workers who cannot work from home to go to work – especially for essential businesses such as supermarkets, utilities, healthcare, merchandise freight and logistics.

Business operations

Government and business response

The French Government is advising businesses to work from home where possible, but allowing all essential businesses to stay open (such as health, food, utilities, transport).

On 20 March, the government announced the below measures to support French companies. These are most relevant to New Zealand companies with businesses in France, or for distributors of New Zealand products based in France:

  • Postponing payment of social and/or fiscal instalments (URSSAF, direct taxes) – or direct tax rebates in the most difficult situations

  • Deferral of payment of rent, water, gas and electricity bills for the smallest companies in difficulty

  • Cash support of €1,500 for the smallest enterprises, the self-employed and micro-enterprises

  • State mobilisation of up to €300 billion to guarantee lines of credit to banks that businesses may need as a result of the epidemic

  • Support from the State and the Banque de France (credit mediation) to negotiate with banks for loan rescheduling

  • Keeping staff employed by reinforcing the simplified short-time working scheme (Government paying a large share of salaries)

  • Support for the handling of conflict with customers or suppliers by the companies.

France has also implemented State and local authority recognition of COVID-19 as a case of emergency (force majeure) for public contracts. This means that for all national and local government procurement, penalties for delays will not be applied, and insurers are enabled to cover losses of turnover depending on companies' insurance arrangements.

Additional information

The French Employers' Federation provides information on Covid-19 for businesses based in France (French language).

Additional resources

Below you can find information and contact details for other New Zealand government and international agencies regarding their response to COVID-19.

New Zealand Government agencies
New Zealand Customs
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
MFAT Export helpline
MFAT Safetravel
Ministry of Health

Global agencies

World health organisation (WHO)
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Contact NZTE

We're available to talk to you about any issues your export business is facing due to COVID-19.

For existing NZTE customers, please contact your New Zealand-based Customer Manager.

If you're unsure who to contact or haven't worked with us before, you can call NZTE on 0800 555 888 or email below and one of our Customer Advisors will help you.