Lakshmi Mittal, powerful industrial tycoon and adept businessman, has been dishing out some home truths. The cost of steel production is 20% higher in France than it is in Spain.
Not in Indonesia, or somewhere as predictable, but in Spain, within the Euro zone.
This is a clear sign that the entire structure of France's heavy industry is being left behind by the competition and that it is becoming indispensable to reconvert it from top to bottom.
The way of working, labour costs, the weight of state environment, the duration and pace of work.
In short, everything!
Florange the Arcelor-Mittal steel plant, as it is, is no longer profitable and must either reconvert itself towards other industries, or close down. That's the harsh reality of current world economy. France can't afford to isolate itself. It's up to the state to encourage initivatives, be they from entrepreneurs or industrialists, that's its role.
But subventions and investments from the state will amount to nothing other than wasting taxpayers' money if simply put towards filling the gaps.
Unfortunately this evidence based reality is not getting through some French politicians' heads.
This certainly seems to be the case with Ségolène Royal, president of the Poitou-Charente region. She rants and raves against the new Public Bank of Investment. she 'demands' that the latter invest in businesses that are losing money. She threatens executives with all sorts of thunder.
Jean-Pierre Jouyet and Nicolas Dufourcq, President and General Manager respectively, have for answer that they are there to invest in businesses, launch into the conquest of new markets, create new jobs and not to fill the gaps.
They are right.
If France wants to get out of the rut in which it finds itself, it must invest in its future and above all, stop politicians from getting involved in financial and industrial decisions with taxpayers' money.