French growth of 2.3% forecast

THE French economy will probably grow 2.3% this year, the fastest pace since 2000, the Paris-based national statistics office Insee said yesterday.

Demand from China and the US has helped boost exports and encourage investment.

Stronger growth may help French President Jacques Chirac and Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy to rein in the budget deficit.

France expects to breach the EU’s deficit limit of 3% of gross domestic product for the third year in 2004. It aims to comply with the rule next year.

“`While we were very suspicious a few months ago about the possibility of the government reaching its target in terms of the budget deficit, the chances are looking slightly better today,” said Dominique Barbet, an economist at BNP Paribas.

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