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Why the French may say ‘non’ to ‘Made in France’

Thursday, 15 Aug 2013 | 10:18 AM ET
Thomas Coex | AFP | Getty Images

The French government is lobbying its citizens to opt for domestic products over imports, but a new report said that doing so could leave French consumers 300 euros ($398) a month poorer.

According to a report by French thinktank CEPII, which specializes in international economic research, choosing "Made in France" products over imported equivalents could lose French households between 1,270 euros ($1,685) and 3,770 euros ($5,010) each year.

(Read more: Why Socialism may make France's stock market rally)

The report came after Arnaud Montebourg, the government minister for Industrial Renewal, launched a "Made in France" campaign last year,dressed in a quintessentially French Breton top and clutching a French-branded blender.

Montebourg is something of an enfant terrible for the French government, known for his blunders and his crusades to defend French companies at all costs — he famously blocked Yahoo! from acquiring a French internet company, Dailymotion. Montebourg sees "the French excellency" as a major "asset for the economic and touristic attractiveness" of the country, and a huge tool to boost exports.

(Read more: French Minister Hits at Amazon 'Dumping')

However, the CEPII report said that buying "made in France" added 24 percent to the cost of leather goods, 10 percent to the cost of household appliances, and 5 percent to the cost of clothing. The thinktank argued that the extra cost may be because French companies choose to focus on making high-end products in response to competition from foreign companies.

Adding a final nail to the government's coffin, CEPII cast doubt on the government's argument that the "Made in France" would create jobs, as substituting imported products for imported ones would increase spending on the concerned products, reduce the consumption of services.

(Read more: Thousands of French Households Taxed Over 100%)

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