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Economy

Coca-Cola Halts Investment In France To Protest New “Soda Tax”

The French government wants to impose an extra tax on sweetened beverages, both as a way to generate revenue in response the country’s growing deficit – and to fight obesity. Now, the Coca-Cola company, which has 3,000 French employees, is fighting back.

Taxing Coke to fight French deficit (dan taylor)
Taxing Coke to fight French deficit (dan taylor)

Worldcrunch NEWSBITES

PARIS - Coca-Cola has suspended a planned €17 million ($24 million) investment in France as a "symbolic protest" against a French government plan to impose a new tax on sugary drinks.

A Coca-Cola executive confirmed to Le Monde that the American beverage giant would halt plans to add a production line to its Pennes-Mirabeau plant in southern France, in direct response to the government proposal announced last month.

The so-called "soda tax" is part of a deficit reduction package under discussion by the French Parliament, but it is also aimed at reducing sugary drink consumption in a population that increasingly suffers from problems of obesity.

But the Coca-Cola official said the tax was "unfair…no study shows that Coca-Cola causes obesity." The official added that the company had already reduced sugar levels in its drinks by 16 percent.

Several other beverage companies have called the tax unfair because it targets drinks that are "not harmful to health." But Coca-Cola has now taken the lead in the rebellion, reminding the government that the company was responsible for 3,000 jobs in France, though the move Thursday will not affect any of its current French employees.

In addition to blocking the planned investment, Coca-Cola launched a PR campaign on Twitter by creating the @AntiTaxeSoda account and talking directly to consumers.

Read the full article in French by Samuel Laurent

Photo - dan taylor

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Western Tanks To Ukraine Trigger Russian Threats — But Also Fears Of Major Counterattack

Germany and the U.S. overcame months of reluctance in the past 24 hours to commit to sending heavy combat tanks to Ukraine. Russia responded with official bluster, but others in Moscow fear that the tanks delivery could be a gamechanger on the battlefield.

Picture of recently mobilized Russian troops

Recently mobilized Russian troops getting ready to depart for service

Cameron Manley

A week of growing expectations of a coming Russian offensive was turned on its head Wednesday as Germany and the U.S. announced their intention to send heavy combat tanks to Ukraine.

The sudden show of resolve on supplying tanks — after months of reluctance, particularly from Germany — has prompted some Russians to fear that Ukraine will now be equipped for a major counterattack. That would be significant reversal after speculation had been growing this month about a Russian spring offensive.

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Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government confirmed Wednesday morning that Berlin plans to send at least 14 German-built Leopard 2 tanks to the frontline. U.S. media also reported that Joe Biden’s administration is expected to officially announce Washington's commitment, with at least 30 M1 Abrams tanks expected to be sent.

The timeline remains unclear as to when the vehicles would make it into combat. Still, both sides on the war acknowledged that it is a significant development with the potential to change the math on the battlefield.

Official Russian response was loaded with typical incendiary rhetoric. Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to Russian president Vladimir Putin, said the new tanks would "burn like all the rest, only these ones are expensive.”

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