France selling ships _ and maybe arms _ to Mozambique in unusual deal
Hollande unveiled how France, the EU’s top agricultural producer and main beneficiary of EU farm aid, will implement a new European farm policy agreed earlier this year, a process that has exposed tensions between livestock and grain sectors. The French government has promised to use a renegotiation of the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy to favour livestock farmers, although rejigging the bloc’s complex farm payments has proved a headache. “My first priority is livestock farming,” Hollande said at a livestock show in central France, where he was met with jeers and heckled repeatedly. “To let breeders in the situation they are in today, with lower income than the rest of the profession, higher risks, heavy constraints, is to weaken French agriculture as a whole,” he said. Hollande said France would use measures including a subsidy bonus on the first 52 hectares of each farm, seen favouring smaller livestock farms over crop farms spread over wider areas. NEARLY ONE BILLION EUROS In addition, France would use an option given to EU countries to increase the share of subsidies tied to a type of production, rather than per hectare, to direct more money towards livestock farming, as well as aid for specific sectors such as mountain livestock farmers, Hollande said. “This will represent nearly one billion euros ($1.4 billion)each year to be redirected on this objective with significant effects on the income of our breeders,” Hollande said. He did not detail how much precisely would come from the 9 billion euros in annual EU farm aid per year it will receive in the 2014-2020 period. But to ease the transition for grain growers who would lose some aid, France will reduce disparities in basic subsidies by 70 percent by the end of the period, rather than the total convergence allowed by the EU. The government will also allocate to the small-farm bonus, less money than the maximum authorised under the EU reform. Crop growers have attacked the government’s proposed reweighting of farm aid, saying it assumed permanent high grain prices whereas they were vulnerable to market downturns and faced tough competition to export grain. ($1 = 0.7358 euros) (Additional reporting and writing by Gus Trompiz; editing by David Evans)
The biggest French companies have significant foreign investors and are very international. Seen from abroad, this will scare everyone. The debate over protecting French interests has been a political hot potato since Canadian aluminum maker Alcan Inc. bought French rival Pechiney SA a decade ago, eventually breaking it up and shutting plants. More recently, ArcelorMittal, the worlds largest steelmaker, decided to shutter a plant in France in the north-eastern city of Florange. The plant was the site where French President Francois Hollande pledged a few months before being elected in May 2012 to pass a law forcing large firms to sell rather than close sites to cap unemployment, which now stands at a 14-year high. Socialist Credentials The Socialist president, whose popularity is at a record low, is trying to make good on that campaign promise after being accused by some unions of caving in to ArcelorMittal when he ruled against a proposal by Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg to temporarily nationalize the Florange plant last December. The event is a central episode in the ministers just-released book La bataille du made in France, on defending the countrys industry in the face of large corporations with questionable behavior. With the bill, Hollande is seeking to re-burnish his credentials with his base. To its opponents, the bill asks potential buyers to stay out. The provision forcing a search for a buyer of sites before their closure could be interpreted as telling foreign investors not to invest in France, Jean-Claude Rivalland, a partner at Allen & Overy LLP in Paris, said in an interview. In terms of perception, this could be a disaster. Further Complexity Even without the law, the state has not been shy about blocking deals. One such example this year was the failed attempt by Yahoo! Inc. to invest in YouTubes smaller rival DailyMotion, a unit of phone operator Orange SA (ORA) , in which the state is the single-biggest shareholder with a 27 percent stake.
Its important not only to have ships. There will also be a need to make sure that they are protected. He would not give details, but said the money for the ship deal came from a loan from another country, but I cant say which one. Hollandes office said the contract with CMN is just part of a larger global deal with the holding company Privinvest, owned by Lebanese magnate Iskandar Safa. Hollandes office wouldnt comment on the possible weapons negotiations because the deal is not public. Safa, who played a prominent role in Mondays events in Cherbourg, declined to give details on the agreements involved. Safa, who helped negotiate the release of French hostages in Lebanon in 1988, faced a French arrest warrant for several years in the 2000s because of suspicions around his financial transactions with senior French officials. The case against him was dropped in 2009 by the French prosecutors for lack of evidence. Meanwhile, Mozambicans are asking how all these purchases are being financed. Mozambique is ranked 185 out of 187 on the U.N.s human development index. But it has been enjoying strong economic growth, boosted by the discovery of large reserves of offshore natural gas. Fatima Mimbire, who works with anti-corruption group Transparency International in Mozambique, said the government has released contradictory information on the value of the ship deal ranging from 200 million euros to $500 million and about which company is behind it. If members of the government arent talking the same language, something is wrong, she said. I understand that we need to expand our exports to bring more money to the country. … But the government should tell the truth about what is behind this operation. Before Guebuza traveled to France, there was an outcry by Mozambican society, with critics complaining that the country has problems more pressing than needing ships, such as hunger, poor roads, lack of medicines, and lack of decent medical care for pregnant women. The Mozambican president told The Associated Press in Cherbourg on Monday that the ship deal is a private contract, with all the support of the Mozambique government. He declined to give any details about the buyers.