two hours ago
PARIS – Reuters: There were calls on social media over the weekend for a boycott of French goods in parts of the Muslim world to protest France’s publication of satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
It is difficult to ascertain the impact of the boycott, given that only sporadic reports have been received that sales of French goods and commodities have been affected so far.
The following are some French sectors and companies that deal with Muslim-majority countries, which there is no indication that any of them have been affected so far, unless otherwise indicated.
Grains: France is one of the largest exporters of grains in the world. Some of its largest markets are located in Muslim-majority countries. Algeria is the tenth largest export market for French agricultural products, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture in Paris, as the value of French exports to it reached about 1.4 billion euros in 2019. Morocco, one of the Islamic countries that condemned the publication of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, ranked 17 in importing products French agricultural exports last year amounted to 700 million euros.
* Supermarkets: The boycott calls target the “Carrefour” chain of stores in Saudi Arabia. A campaign to urge consumers not to go to these stores spread strongly on social media in the country over the weekend.
Carrefour has many branches in the Middle East and South Asia through locality partnerships. One of the partners owns the exclusive rights to the giant chain in countries such as Pakistan, Lebanon and Bahrain. While another partner owns the rights of “Carrefour” in Morocco.
But Reuters journalists in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, visited two Carrefour stores that appeared to be crowded as usual.
Energy: The French energy giant, Total, is present in several Muslim-majority countries. In Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey, which have witnessed strong anti-French reactions due to the cartoons offending the Prophet Muhammad, the company focuses mainly on selling its petrochemical and petroleum products. In Saudi Arabia, as well as in many other Gulf states, Total has investments in exploration and production, and in some cases, refining.
* Fashion and luxury goods: Reuters visited a store in Kuwait City yesterday to find cosmetics and skin care products produced by the French company “L’Oréal” had been removed from the shelves. The store was one of about 70 outlets associated with a cooperative that decided to stop selling French products.
However, L’Oréal and other companies in the French fashion sector have had a limited impact on the boycott campaigns in the region. The Middle East and Africa represent only a fraction of the company’s profits, at just over 2%.
For the big French fashion brands, the Middle East represents a fraction of sales, compared to the United States, Asia or Europe. Famous brands such as Louis Vuitton, owned by LVMH, and privately-owned Chanel, have stores across the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
But wealthy customers in the Middle East tend to purchase luxury goods while traveling. LVMH, which also owns the luxury fashion house Christian Dior, does not disclose the extent of the Middle East’s contribution to its revenues.
Defense and space: France is one of the world’s largest arms exporters. Thales sells weapons, war materiel, aviation technology, and public transport systems to a number of Muslim-majority countries.
Among the clients are Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey and Qatar, according to the company’s website. As for Egypt and Qatar, one of the countries that requested military aircraft “Rafale” from the French “Dassault” company, which considers the region also a big market for its private aircraft.