France’s president and foreign minister have warned a French-Swiss cement firm against helping to build a southern border wall in the U.S., citing their “social… responsibilities”.
Thursday, the CEO of the LafargeHolcim group said they could work with U.S. President Donald J. Trump to fulfil his election promise. “We are here to supply our customers’ needs,” he said. “We don’t have a political view on things.”
However, Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault objected to the firm’s neutral stance, instructing them to “think carefully” about the decision.
“It [Lafarge] should reflect upon what its interests are. There are other clients who will be stunned by this,” Mr. Jean-Marc Ayrault told France Info radio.
“Lafarge says it doesn’t do politics… Very well, but I would say companies… also have social and environmental responsibilities,” added France’s top diplomat.
French President François Hollande also waded in, implying LafargeHolcim’s decision was somehow risky or wrong.
“I think there are markets where one must be cautious before declaring one’s candidacy,” Mr. Hollande told a news conference on the sidelines of a European Union (EU) summit in Brussels when asked about the issue.
Despite Mr. Hollande’s apparent opposition to Mr. Trump’s wall, a six-foot tall, concrete border wall has been constructed in Calais during his presidency to keep migrants out of British territory.
LafargeHolcim was created in 2015 by the merger of French and Swiss firms, and it hopes to cash in on the $1 trillion infrastructure investment programme president Trump has promised.
Mr. Olsen noted “there is going to be a significant increase in infrastructure spending”, insisting the company is “very well positioned to serve that demand”.
Along with other European premiers, France’s socialist leader has been vocal in his opposition to the new U.S. administration.
On Thursday, International Women’s Day, Mr. Hollande claimed female rights were “declining” in the U.S. He said “threats of backtracking” on women’s rights don’t just come from “emerging nations or countries under dictatorships, but also in developed and rich countries”.