The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday downgraded its forecast for the French economy in 2013 and 2014, adding that it would be \"hard\" to reverse the unemployment trend by the end of the year. The Washington-based organisation said France\'s GDP would contract by 0.2 percent this year and grow by 0.8 percent in 2014, compared to previous predictions of a 0.1 percent contraction in 2013 and 0.9 percent growth next year. \"Following two quarters of negative growth (last quarter of 2012 and first quarter of 2013), economic activity should begin to recover in the second half of 2013, driven by a gradual improvement in the external environment,\" the IMF said. But it warned in its annual evaluation report that \"significant rigidities hinder the economy\'s capacity to grow and to create jobs.\" Edward Gardner, the IMF\'s mission chief for France, told reporters that \"macroeconomic variables lead us to think unemployment will continue to rise and that it will be hard to reverse this rise by the end of the year.\" French President Francois Hollande vowed last year that his Socialist government would curb the rising unemployment trend by the end of 2013, and he has kept that pledge despite worsening economic indicators. The eurozone\'s second largest economy fell into recession in the first quarter of the year, and registered a record number of jobseekers in April -- the 24th consecutive month of rising unemployment.