Since Emmanuel Macron's declarations defending the freedom to caricature the Prophet Muhammad, during the national tribute to assassinated professor Samuel Paty, several calls for a boycott of French products have been launched in certain countries of the Muslim world, including Turkey, Yemen, Pakistan, Kuwait and Qatar.

What could be the impact for the French economy?

For the moment, no figures allow us to measure the economic consequences of these calls for boycott according to the government.

Asked Monday October 26 on RTL, the Minister in charge of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Franck Riester, indicated that "for the moment, the boycott is very limited".

Limited impact?

"Franck Riester and his teams have been in permanent contact since Saturday with the companies concerned, but you should know that these are very small export zones for France, namely 15 billion euros all sectors combined in the Middle -Orient ", explains Christophe Dansette, economy columnist at France 24.

French exports to the Middle East in 2019. © France 24

Trade between France and the countries of the Near and Middle East is quite low and represents only 3% of French exports, according to the 2020 report on France's foreign trade.

In addition, the countries concerned are not France's main customers.

Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially called on his compatriots on Monday to boycott French products, exports more to France (8.7 billion euros in 2019, according to the French Treasury) than it does. imports (5.9 billion euros).

Franco-Turkish trade in 2019. © France 24

"But there are companies more concerned than others, such as Bel for example, which exports Babybel and La vache qui rit, and which achieves a little more than 20% in the Africa and Middle East zone", emphasizes Christophe Dansette.

In Qatar and Kuwait, for example, calls for a boycott were limited to withdrawing cheeses, creams or cosmetics from the shelves of certain supermarkets.

"Resist blackmail"

For its part, the Medef, the French employers' organization, believes that this campaign will probably not have much effect.

Its president, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, evoked, on the airwaves of radio RMC, "bad news" for companies specializing in the food industry, luxury goods and cosmetics, while declaring that he was "not question of giving in to blackmail ".

He launched "an appeal to companies to resist blackmail and unfortunately to endure this boycott", believing that it was "quite localized".

However, the government takes this campaign very seriously.

"The boycott calls are without any object and must cease immediately, as well as all the attacks directed against our country, instrumentalised by a radical minority", replied the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement released Sunday.

Calls to boycott French products distort the positions defended by France in favor of freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and the refusal of any call to hatred.


- France Diplomacy🇫🇷 (@francediplo) October 25, 2020

The Quai d'Orsay added that the ministers as well as the entire French diplomatic network are fully mobilized to "call on the authorities of the countries concerned to dissociate themselves from any call for boycott or any attack against our country, to support our companies and ensuring the safety of our compatriots abroad ".

In the National Assembly, the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, for his part on Monday qualified the boycott practices as "unacceptable" and announced that the government will support "companies in the face of the boycott threats they make. 'object".

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