France at risk of losing over $100B foreign trade as calls for boycott of French goods gain traction

Foreign trade of more than $100 billion that France has with predominantly Muslim countries is at stake as calls for a consumer boycott of that nation’s goods increased due to President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial claims about Islam sparked huge controversy across multiple regions. Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the first to appeal to citizens to shun French products over Macron’s anti-Islam agenda.

Predominantly Muslim countries hold an important role in France’s foreign trade. France is said to have made exports worth $45.8 billion to Islamic countries in 2019, with its imports standing at $58 billion. The impact of the boycott is difficult to ascertain, with only isolated reports of sales of French goods being affected.

France is a major global exporter of agricultural products, with 3% going to the Middle East. It is also one of the leading arms exporters. Energy giant Total also is present in many Muslim majority countries.

For major French fashion labels, the Middle East represents a small portion of sales compared to the United States, Asia or Europe but wealthy Middle Eastern clients tend to buy luxury goods while traveling away from home.

One target of the calls for boycotts, Carrefour supermarket chain, operates in many parts of the Middle East and South Asia via a franchising arrangement with partners.

Earlier this month, Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” and announced plans for tougher laws to tackle what he called “Islamist separatism” in France.

This coincided with the murder of a French teacher who showed caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in class. Macron paid tribute to him and said France won’t prevent the publication of insulting cartoons of the Prophet under the pretext of freedom of expression.

Source: Daily Sabah