|Photo : ALAMY|
An American tyre tycoon has fired off a second virulent missive to France's industry minister, saying his country has “beautiful women and fantastic wine” but “no idea how to run a business”.
Maurice Taylor - chief executive of Titan International - had already incensed the French once this week by saying the country's “so-called” workers put in “three hours a day” with the rest spent eating and talking.
Industry minister Arnaud Montebourg hit back in a written response in which he told Mr Taylor his comments were “extremist and insulting” and displayed “a perfect ignorance of what our country is about”.
"Be assured that you can count on me to inspect your tyre imports with a redoubled zeal."
Mr Taylor has today responded: "You letter shows the extent to which your political class is out of touch with [real] world problems”.
"You call me an extremist, but most businessmen would agree that I must be nuts to have the idea to spend millions of US dollars to buy a tyre factory in France paying some of the highest wages in the world."
"Your letter did not mention why the French government has not stepped in to rescue this Goodyear tyre factory.
"The extremists are in your government, who have no idea how to build a business.
"Your government let the wackos of the communist union destroy the highest paying jobs," Mr Taylor told Mr Montebourg.
"At no time did Titan ask for lower wages; we asked only if you want seven hours pay, you work at least six."
But he added: "France does have beautiful women and great wine. PS: My grandmother named my father after French entertainer Maurice Chevalier, and I inherited the name."
In a final flourish, he said: “I have visited Normandy with my wife. I know what we did for France.”
Earlier, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland played down the cross-Atlantic spat as a "private matter" and not a concern between the United States and its "oldest ally" France.
"We have deep and broad relations, including many successful American businesses operating in France, many successful French businesses operating in the United States," she added.
Mr Taylor's broadsides have sparked outrage among most of France's media.
But Right-wingers warned there was some truth in his tirades.
Valérie Pécresse, the former conservative budget minister, said: “It faithfully reflects the image that a good deal of investors have of France…because we have an overdose of tax, because they don’t see the necessary competiveness reforms.”
The row came as the European Commission predicted that French growth this year will expand just 0.1pc compared with the government’s 0.8pc forecast. France will also fail to meet its 3 per cent budget-deficit target, the Commission added, forecasting the deficit to be 3.7pc of GDP.
Henry Samuel is the Daily Telegraph's France correspondent covering everything from French politics and justice to art de vivre. He has lived and worked in the country since 1996.
(source : telegraph.co.uk)