Le Pen Follows Trump’s Lead on Automotive Protectionism

Marine Le PenMarine Le Pen

Far-right French presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, said on Tuesday she would seek to repatriate the production of French motor vehicles and other industrial goods—just as US president-elect, Donald Trump, hopes to do in the United States.

Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on cars made abroad, saying the practice costs American jobs. He has praised Ford Motor Company’s decision last week to scrap a plan to build a plant in Mexico, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ confirmation of plans to create 2,000 jobs at its US factories, France24 reported.

Asked whether she would like to see the same thing happen with French manufacturers Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen, the National Front leader said, “He (Trump) is putting in place measures I have been demanding for years.”

Speaking on France2 Television, she described the policy as “economic patriotism, (and) intelligent protectionism”.

“I don’t mind explaining to French companies that they cannot escape tax that they should be paying in France, that they cannot go offshore without suffering the consequences ... A choice has to be made, a choice of patriotism,” she said.

Both Renault and Peugeot have significant cars and parts-making activities in Spain and Eastern Europe.

Other candidates in France’s spring presidential election have praised Trump’s attitude on Ford, including Socialist Arnaud Montebourg and left-wing independent, Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Le Pen’s protectionist and anti-globalization agenda has helped win her widespread support in her campaign. Most opinion polls show her contesting, but losing, the second and final round of the presidential election in May with Francois Fillon who represents conservative party The Republicans.

Industrial policy is one of the key differences between the two. Fillon has a liberal program aimed at rolling back state involvement in corporate life.

On December 1, Fillon advocated selling government holdings in major companies, saying the government’s near 20% stake in Renault was pointless and could not prevent it from building factories abroad.


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