The International Monetary Fund says recession-ridden France needs to increase the pace of its economic reforms or risk falling further behind its European neighbors.
The IMF predicted Tuesday that the French economy, the euro currency bloc's second biggest after Germany, would regain strength in the second half of this year. But the IMF said that for all of 2013 it expects the country's economic fortunes to fall two-tenths of one percent before advancing eight-tenths of a percentage point next year.
The Washington-based agency said France's competitiveness gap with its European trading partners is growing.
The IMF said French companies have a faltering rate of productivity growth, low profit margins and declining exports. It said higher wages have hurt company profits, which in turn have hurt the country's competitiveness in international trading.
The 17-nation eurozone is mired in an 18-month recession, its longest since adoption of the euro in 1999. Europe has sent billions of dollars in bailouts to five countries to help them avoid bankruptcy.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.