Have France's agricultural cooperatives lost their “raison d’être”? They have traditionally had tax breaks, but is that unfair competition?
Tereos is a French sugar cooperative with its headquarters two hours from Paris. It's the biggest sugar producer in France, and its extensive international operations make it the third-biggest in Europe and Brazil. Also active in Africa and Eastern Europe, it has nearly 4 billion euros in annual revenue. But is this multinational status still compatible with the values of a cooperative?
According to Thierry Lecomte, chairman of Tereos' supervisory board, the cooperative must grow in order to reach new markets and stay competitive.
But Tereos' private competitors don’t agree and accuse the cooperative of taking advantage of tax exemptions to win unfair access to international markets. “In the same profession, with the same activity, the same customers and the same products, some companies pay taxes and some others don’t pay taxes,” says Pierre Neuviale, director of France's Agricultural Trade Federation (Fédération du négoce agricole).
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Date created : 2009-06-22