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France slams ‘extremist’ Titan CEO over Goodyear slur

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-02-22

The French minister of industry and growth has accused Maurice Taylor, CEO of US tyre maker Titan, of being “extremist” and “insulting” in comments detailing why he would not invest in France and would flood the market with cheap imports.

France's minister of industry and growth, Arnaud Montebourg, on Wednesday accused the head of a US tyre company of being “extremist” and “insulting” for his derision of French working practices and the country’s manufacturing sector.

Montebourg was responding to a letter, published earlier in the day by French business daily Les Echos, from Maurice Taylor, CEO of Titan International, explaining his reasons for not wanting to buy troubled tyre manufacturer Goodyear’s French operation.

Taylor said “crazy” trade unions at the Goodyear factory in Amiens, in northern France, had scuppered the plant’s future, and accused its “so-called workers” of working three hours a day and spending the rest of the time taking breaks and talking.

He also accused the French government of being apathetic and short-sighted in the face of competition from Asian countries.

He finished by saying he intended to buy a Chinese or Indian manufacturer and flood the French market with cheap tyres.

‘Ridiculous and derogatory’

Montebourg retaliated with an open letter published across French media later on Wednesday, saying: “Your ideas are as extremist as they are insulting, while showing a perfect ignorance of our country.”

A Titan commercial shows its CEO Maurice Taylor expressing his opinion of the French.

The minister pointed out the large number of US companies operating profitably in France, while highlighting the historical links between the two countries, from French help in the American revolutionary war, to the deep French respect for American sacrifices in the Second World War.

“The truth is far from your ridiculous and derogatory remarks,” Montebourg wrote. “All these companies know and appreciate the quality and productivity of the French workforce.”

“I would remind you that your company, Titan, is 20 times smaller than [French tyre giant] Michelin … and 35 times less profitable.”

He concluded: “Rest assured, you can count on me to monitor … with redoubled vigilance the import of your tyres to France.”

“The relevant authorities will pay particular attention to their compliance with our high environmental and technical standards, as well as the human conditions in which they are made.”

Date created : 2013-02-20

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