Do (French) protectionist policies Work?

This question is directed to our french Dopers: It is my understanding, that the french Government takes protecting domestic industries very seriously. The reasoning goes like this: France needs to maintain a cadre of trained scientists and engineers, so that france can have its own electronics, shipbuilding, and atomic energy industries. To promote this, the French Gov. places tariffs on imports (like PCs imported from China), so that a French-built PC can compete. Such a policy has bad aspects and good aspects: there is emplyment in a domestic electronics industry, but the bad part is: french consumers pay higher prices.
I the USA, the government has basically written off domestic manufacturing-it is impossible to buy a domestically-made PC, microwave oven, or TV set. My question: has the protectionist policy worked in france? Can you buy french-made electronics? And, are they much more expensive than Chinese-made?
I agree-there are many benefits to an open market-but we have seen the donside of open markets 9in the USA)-we now have a multi-trillion 4 trade deficit with China.

Its not electronics but my wife’s family is a large importer/distributor of French dairy products like high-end cheeses. France has an amazing amount of regulation over their food producers including rules on what can be labeled as authentic and what can’t even if the end product is virtually identical. All I can say is that they still have hundreds of tradtional cheese producers producing goods of known quality and labeled so that a knowledgable person knows exactly what the product is just by looking at the label. In an alternative universe, France would let just anyone start producing cheeses and use whatever marketing they want on them. Significant imports would compete with the tradtional domestic products.

The policies seem to work at least in the sense of preserving this tradtional industry. I don’t know if it is good or bad but they really wanted to keep a good handle on what is happening with their traditional food products.

A small point: France does not have its own national import tariff rates - cannot have, as the EU is a customs union so any national differences would be arbitraged away.

European integration is the main issue here. EU/EC law does not only prevent member states from imposing tariffs on imports - on internal borders between EU states, no tariffs are allowed to exist, and the tarrifs along the common external borders are set by the EU. The European institutions are generally pretty picky about national protectionism, and the European Commission is pretty alert when national legislation is suspected of restricting intra-Community trade in any way. Nations which try to keep out goods, services, or workers from other EU countries will usually face a procedure before the European Court of Justice for violation of the freedoms guaranteed by the Treaties, and the Court is usually rather restrictive about attempts to justify direct or even rather subtle trade restrictions. The creation of the European common market has been a very tedious process, but the results are amazing - in general, there is not much trouble involved for a European company to do business abroad.

All in all, many European national governments would like to provide for more protectionism, and sometimes they wager attempts to do so, but in most cases these attempts fail because they are incompatible with superior EU law.