The latest forecasts say that the French GDP might decline by 11 per cent in 2020. The association Copacel thinks that the paper industry will be particularly impacted.

People might be inclined to think that the worst should be over now that coronavirus restrictions are gradually being eased and commercial and industrial activity is resuming in France. But the paper industry still has tough times ahead, the French association of paper and board producers Copacel stressed in its annual conference, which took place online this year. The association believes that the industry is moving towards a severe recession.

According to Copacel, France's paper and board industry has made it through the lockdown era and coronavirus restrictions in relatively good shape. The association estimates that production between mid-March and the end of May was around 10 per cent lower than it was in normal times. The activity rate of the French industry as a whole reportedly stood at only 55 per cent.

However, Copacel is not very optimistic about the near future. The association expects consumption to plunge from June onwards, due to factors including the weakened purchasing power of some households and a slump in printing for advertising. Cooler demand would create significant surplus capacity throughout Europe, Copacel noted. Since production costs for paper mills are particularly high, the association feels that some of them might be in danger of survival.