Everything that (legally) enters the national territory is methodically analyzed by the customs services in order to be able to be taxed. Each month, French customs publishes an aggregated version of products that have crossed borders. And in March 2020, this set of data tells the story of a real upheaval, with imports marked by the confirmed presence of the coronavirus on the territory and the implementation of containment.
The elements necessary for carrying out tests, for example, jumped by more than 25% in value between March 2019 and March 2020. Another star product of operating theaters in these pandemic times, rubber gloves have experienced a great revival , with more than 40% more imports.
France has also brought 9% more paper surgical masks into its territory compared to the same period last year. And a sign of prices that can soar in the face of the shortage, imports of protective masks (type FFP2, FFP3, but also textile masks) cost France almost twice as much compared to March 2019 when France imported only 5% more products.
While France imported around 400,000 thermometers between March and December 2019, customs recorded nearly 600,000 imported products and expenditure in this sector multiplied by 12 in the first three months of 2020.
A key element for resuscitation services, artificial respirators also saw an increase of 19% compared to the same period last year. But France had to add 45% more, due to strong international demand.
The various hydroalcoholic solutions also experienced a strong increase (+ 30%). No rush, however, for protective glasses and other protective plastic screens, whose categories are down by almost 20% compared to March 2019.
Flour, ink and toilet paper
But imports have also followed the fears of the general public regarding containment, in the face of possible shortages that could have ensued.
We thus find in the data set the star products of what was the French soap opera of mid-March: flour saw its imports increase by 6%, ink cartridges by 15% and toilet paper by 17% .