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Will The French Really Pay More for 'Made in France'?

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Will The French Really Pay More for 'Made in France'?


Will The French Really Pay More for 'Made in France'?

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France is trying lots of things to turn its economy around, including encouraging some good old fashioned economic patriotism. As NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports, it may even be working.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: The French economy suffers from weak growth, high unemployment, poor competitiveness and a general sense of economic gloom. But every remedy the government proposes is met by protests from one corner or another. No one, though, seems to be arguing with a little injection of economic patriotism. For the past three days, the Made in France fair has enjoyed huge crowds at a giant convention hall in Paris.

Well, we're in the Made in France fair. There's a bit of everything. There are cars, there's food, clothing, toys. This is a movement that's been growing as people see more French companies closing, being relocated to places like Eastern Europe, China, of course. Many of the companies here are young and seem to be taking advantage of the new movement.

PIERRE GRANDJEAN: The company's name is Mon Petit Polo Francais, My Little French Polo.

BEARDSLEY: That's Pierre Grandjean talking about and all French clothing line started 18 months ago. Though they're in competition with a much older brand making traditional Brittany sailor shirts and polos, Grandjean says domestic competition is not his main worry.

GRANDJEAN: What is important is that the consumer understands that Made in France is a real movement that is useful for jobs, for the economy and for the country.

BEARDSLEY: A recent poll shows that 73 percent of French people are ready to spend more to buy French. Made In France fair visitors Josette and Thierry Dupont are two of them.

JOSETTE DUPONT: (Speaking foreign language)

BEARDSLEY: We have become distracted by cheap products for too long, says Josette Dupont. Now we want to put some more money down to have better quality. But the Duponts acknowledge that French taxes and labor costs force French companies to leave. Analysts say France has lost 750,000 industrial jobs in the past decade.

For example, until 20 years ago, France had a thriving shoe industry, says shoe company owner Jacqueline Segal. Segal says the Made in France campaign is waking people up.

JACQUELINE SEGAL: They're starting to realize that they have to do it. It's either that or paying people unemployment.

BEARDSLEY: Damien Biro has brought his prototype hybrid sports car to the exhibit. And what does he think about the Made in France campaign?

DAMIEN BIRO: Made In France.

BEARDSLEY: It's not even in French.

BIRO: No, it's in English. In France, we have very good knowledge in engineering and handmade things. We value quality. In a way, we are very expensive, but it's in the long term, very economic and useful.

BEARDSLEY: As we leave the fair, my 7-year-old son and I pass a stand for Paris Cola, a fizzy brown copy brewed right here in the City of Light. How is the Paris Cola? My son is sampling Paris Cola.


BEARDSLEY: Is it as good as Coca-Cola?


BEARDSLEY: Clearly, the Made in France campaign doesn't work for everyone. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris.

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