Are French exports threatened by the boycott of the Arab-Muslim world?

Audio 03:56

French President Emmanuel Macron during the national tribute to Samuel Paty, at the Sorbonne on October 21, 2020. AP Photo / Francois Mori, Pool

By: Dominique Baillard Follow

8 min

In recent days, the call to boycott French products has been spreading on social networks in the Muslim world, in reaction to President Macron's comments.

During the tribute to Professor Samuel Paty, he indicated that France would not renounce the caricatures of the prophet Mohamet.

Will French exports suffer from this call?


This will depend on the success of this call, yet to be confirmed, and also on the weight of trade with the countries most involved.

Even if Kuwait has been very responsive, the emblematic Kiri and Babybel cheeses have already been withdrawn from supermarkets in the Emirate and some sixty Kuwaiti cooperatives announce that the tricolor products will no longer be distributed, the negative effect will be limited. in this country, because French exports there are low, they amount to only a few hundred million euros.

If the appeal grows, it is a risk for the products most exposed to the general public.

Those of the food industry, cosmetics and perfumes.

Three industries that make a positive contribution to the French trade balance and that are already suffering from the consequences of Covid-19.

Besides Bahrain, in Qatar, two supermarket chains - Al Meera and Souq el Baladi - have emptied their shelves of tricolor products.

In Saudi Arabia is circulating a message of boycott of Carrefour stores.

Can a boycott occasionally harm a business?

Danone paid the price in Morocco two years ago.

Following a call relayed by Facebook, his milk deemed too expensive no longer found any buyer.

Its annual sales figure fell by 178 million euros in that country, an incident that weighed on its overall profit.

Brands take social media boycotts very seriously.

They fear more for their image than for their sales and often undertake to take into account the expectations of consumers who shun them.

In Morocco, Danone has lowered the price of its milk.

In the threat launched last week against French products, however, companies have little influence, since they are not directly involved.

The Élysée could review its position to protect French companies


History shows that while companies can make amends to escape boycott, states never surrender.

The French government is also asking the leaders of the countries concerned to put an end to these calls for boycott, without going back on the president's remarks.

The most striking example of the inflexibility of states is that of Israel, subjected for 15 years to the BDS movement for "Boycott, Desinvest, Sanction".

An appeal launched by Palestinian groups.

Israel is fighting this campaign on all fronts, with the tools of law and diplomacy.

Although its exports suffer little as they are concentrated on high value-added technological products that are difficult to replace and often imported not by individuals but by companies or states.

Are French exports to Arab countries in the same situation



In the Gulf countries, France exports arms and especially planes.

This is 60% of exports to Qatar and Bahrain.

In Arabia, radar purchases are the first item for the year 2019. These contracts are the subject of long-term calls for tenders where political considerations are also taken into account.

Ditto for wheat, the first product exported by France to Morocco and Algeria.

On these high-tech products, or essentials, calls for a boycott launched by civil society are powerless. 


In communist China, the economic line of the next five years is decided this week at the plenum of the central committee of the party

This very political body which meets from this Monday in Beijing determines in great secrecy the five-year plan for the years 2021-2025.

Faced with the " 


 " mentioned by Xi Jinping, Beijing should reaffirm the priority of developing domestic demand.


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