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The eco brief. Does the notion “Made in France” still have a meaning?

“Made in France” labels. (MAXPPP)

Convince that France is attractive despite social movements. This is the goal of the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, who receives nearly 200 French and foreign bosses at Versailles on Monday. Concretely: what does “Made in France” mean today?

There is no shortage of labels and other appellations. What, for example, is the difference between “Made in France” and “Guaranteed French Origin”? The first mention is assigned by customs and means that the product originates from the country in which it was last processed. It may therefore contain components or raw materials from other countries. “Origine France Garantie”, invented in 2010, is more demanding: 50% of the cost of manufacturing the product must be insured in France.

The Apple iPhone is a good example: this phone is designed in California, made in Japan and assembled in China. But some parts, like the system that allows photos to be rotated on the screen, are manufactured by the Franco-Italian company STMicroelectronics located in Crolles, near Grenoble, and which employs around 4,000 people. We have here a common product fruit of globalization which it is often fashionable to criticize, but which is important, sometimes capital, for the balance of the regional ecosystems.

Does producing French mean selling more expensive? In some cases, yes. Especially in high added value crafts. But to play on prices, it would also amount to asking distributors to be more realistic on the margins than they take on local stamped products that sell well. The ideal, for small producers, would be to be able to sell their ideas and their products in France by being part of a global, exporting production chain, which is difficult for many SMEs and mid-caps. It is a real brake on their development. So “Choose France” at Versailles is good. Helping our SMEs and mid-caps, our small bosses – the biggest employers in France – to develop in France and abroad must be another avenue urgently explored.

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