According to Oxfordastronomy.com, the French wealth, however, is given today especially by the industry which participates for 48% in the formation of the national product. Certainly joining the Common European Market has created major problems for the French industry which in some branches (e.g. shipbuilding) has very high costs, and in various fields (manufacturing of cotton and wool, cars, electrical materials) with the protection of heavy customs duties on imports (3/4 of imported goods are burdened with duties of more than 15% of their value). The natural wealth of the country, the great efficiency of the communication routes, the close ties that its position allows it with the main Western countries and the considerable availability of capital, make France in a position to undertake its efforts to adapt to the new European situation with a good probability. Between 1948 and 1958 entirely new industries arose, originating from recent discoveries and inventions that France has followed with considerable financial effort: among the most developed in these fields are the electronics industry – which employs over 50,000 specialists – and the aeronautical industry, which in recent years has become the most advanced in Europe (construction of twin-jet engines for civil uses, helicopters, etc. in a dozen plants, with a production of 1400 aircraft annually, between 1955 and 1958). However, one of the major problems from which the great post-war impetus of French industry arose is that of energy supply. And it can be said that France
Heavy industry. – One of the main uses of energy derived from so many sources is heavy industry, among which the steel industry stands out, which is concentrated 2/3 in Lorraine and its surroundings and 1/5 in the northern departments and which has been radically modernized after 1948 with massive investments. France remains in first place in the continent for the extraction of iron ore (58 million tons on average in recent years, but with an iron content that does not exceed 35%) and has, after the English and those in Germany, one of the highest steel productions: 15 million tons (60% obtained with Thomas converters, 10% with electric furnaces, 30% with different systems) to which 10 million tons must be added t of laminates. The forthcoming already concerted canalization of the Moselle within the framework of the European Community for coal and steel should favor the export of these productions to Rotterdam. This industry, which employs 120,000 workers, is followed by the value of aluminum, fueled by strong Alpine bauxite deposits, which fully satisfy national requirements (the production of aluminum was between 1955 and 1957 of 160 thousand tons, mostly from the plants of St. Jean de Maurienne). the supply of potash is also significant (1.5 million from the Alsatian fields) and that of zinc (130 thousand tons) is moderate.
The automotive industry (which employs 175,000 workers) and related accessories (especially tires and electrical equipment) took a position of great importance in the post-war period, among the industries that supply cars: in this field, Renault is the leader, which it reached in 1958. a production of 950 thousand machines (of which 1/3 exported).
Chemical industry. – The chemical industry is the one which, at least in recent years, has marked the greatest momentum, doubling the size of its production between 1952 and 1958; it (about 200,000 workers are employed) is scattered almost everywhere in the country, but gathered especially around the large ports, such as Marseille and Nantes, or around the main centers such as Paris or in the industrial regions of the north-east.
The most notable productions are based on phosphatic and nitrogen fertilizers (1.8 million t in 1958), sodium carbonate, sulfuric acid, chlorine processing and the manipulation of hydrocarbon derivatives (the plant of plastic materials in Manzingarbe in northern France) and also on coloring materials and pharmaceuticals (around 250 major factories).
Textile industry. – On the other hand, unstable and generally unfavorable events have had the old textile industry: even today it employs more than 500,000 people but is no longer in the prosperous conditions of the past and its exports are decreasing (1/4 of total French sales in 1950, 1/7 of the total in 1958): the phenomenon – common to the rest of the textile industries of other European countries and determined above all by the popularization of synthetic fibers and by competition from new industries in tropical farming The processing of cottons has been particularly affected both in the Vosges region and in the centers along the Seine: cotton production has not exceeded on average, in recent years, the 300,000 t of yarns. Otherwise the wool industry has been sustained enough, which takes place in particular in the area of Roubaix and Tourcoing, and then near the Rhine and in the Parisian basin, and produces more than 150 thousand tons of textiles. Perhaps in a condition of stability – after the serious decline of the years between the two wars – is the manufacture of silk (27,000 tons of yarns). But the increase in artificial and synthetic fabrics is brilliant: the production of the former, doubled after 1952, in 1958 reached 120,000 q and for the latter (nylon in various factories along the Meuse and rilsan in Marseille and Valence) 30,000 t.