French car makers must bring production back home in return for aid: minister

French car makers must bring more production back to France in exchange for government support for the struggling industry, the finance minister said on Monday.

Along with tourism and aerospace, car making is one of three industries for which the French government is preparing sector-specific recovery plans to help them get back on their feet after the coronavirus crisis.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he would hold meetings this week with representatives of the country's car industry about the recovery plan, which is expected at the end of August or September.

“We are ready to help you, we are ready to improve incentives for new cars, we are ready to look at what can improve your competitivity at French production sites,” Le Maire said on BFM Business radio.

“In exchange it's going to be, what's your relocation plan? That's how we will build a stronger automobile industry,” he added.

The government is already working on a €5 billion (roughly R99,187,200,000) package of state-guaranteed loans for carmaker Renault, which is 15% owned by the state.

Renault had to suspend production at one of its French factories last week after a court order sought by the hardline CGT union, which considered the site's measures to protect workers against the coronavirus to be insufficient.

Le Maire said the CGT's move, which was criticised by more moderate unions, sent the wrong signal at a time when France was looking to bring back production.

“There are certain union leaders who are playing with fire,” Le Maire said.





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