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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

François Hollande' cheese coup

He came, he saw and he...well achieved very little.

The French president, François Hollande, completed a two-day trip to Brazil last week, during which he "touted" France's technology, and came away with what could hardly be called the coup of the century.

Hollande had hoped to return home with a multi-million euro signed contract for 36 Rafale fighter jets made by a consortium led by the French giant Dessault - after all it has been a painfully ongoing matter of negotiation for the past four years.

Instead he secured an agreement that, as of immediate effect, Brazil would lift its three-year ban on Roquefort cheese!

Yes talks with his Brazilian counterpart, Dilma Rousseff, saw Hollande achieve what has been described as "striking a blow" for the French cheese industry.

Somehow though "Cheese ban lifted" doesn't quite have the same ring to it as "Multi-million euro fighter jet contract signed".

Yes, yes, "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow" and all that.

But the news, while it'll undoubtedly please the ewes in Aveyron, is hardly one that'll provide a real boost to the French economy in general and kick start the long-promised recovery.

At least the news should please the ewes in Aveyron

All right already, so Hollande also sealed a pledge to "double trade" between France and Brazil.

But that's all rather wishful-washy targets (with the exception perhaps of the purchase of a French "supercomputer" and an undertaking from France to help fund a new metro in São Paulo) which, as the whole Rafale experience has shown, can in the end, come to nowt.

Back in 2009 under Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, it was announced that Brazil would buy 36 Rafale fighter jets.

Four years later the deal still hasn't been done with reports now circulating that the contract is dead in the's doesn't quite sound right does it? - "will be shot down for cost reasons" - that's so much better.

Still, when the history of Hollande's presidency is written, he can at least be remembered as the French statesman who brought Roquefort cheese back to Brazil.

Baaaaa, hurrah.

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