|American Goods Shunned by Some Europeans |
Monday, March 31, 2003
FRANKFURT, Germany — Some European restaurants are halting sales of Coca-Cola (KO), Marlboro cigarettes (MO) and other U.S. brands in boycotts spurred by anti-war sentiment.
In the northern port city of Hamburg, 10 owners of French restaurants decided last week to strike spirits, tobacco and other goods with U.S. brand names from their menus.
Jean-Yves Mabileau from "L'Auberge Francaise" restaurant said he was happy to take part in the action, partly out of retaliation against the boycott of French products in the United States and partly to protest the war.
He threatened to take things a step further if the war did not end soon.
"If the Americans won't calm down, I'll start refusing to accept American Express and other U.S. credit cards," said Mabileau, adding he didn't think the move would hurt business.
The movement is not confined to Germany. Several Web sites call for Europeans to stop consuming leading U.S. products and other countries have seen similar calls to reject of American goods.
Greek filmmakers, including award-winning director Theo Angelopoulos, have called for a boycott of U.S. movies to protest the war in Iraq.
In the southeastern French city of Bayonne, the staff of a bar run by anti-militarists dumped their Coca-Cola stocks into the sewers.
The head of a leading German-American trade association warned that such efforts to punish the United States could backfire, hurting the local economy far more than U.S. multinationals.
"The Coca-Cola drunk in Germany is manufactured in Germany with German employees and they only hurt themselves," said Fred Irwin, head of the Frankfurt-based American Chamber of Commerce.
The sentiment was echoed by Ricarda Ruecker, a spokeswoman for McDonald's Germany, who said the company has seen no decline in its sales. She added that the company has worked hard to put across the message that it was German.
"The name doesn't really tell you anything," Ruecker said. "A boycott in Germany would only damage the economy here."
Stefan Bielmeier, an economist and trade specialist at Deutsche Bank, said such boycotts wouldn't have much impact: "I expect no visible effects here."
Recent polls have shown that more than 80 percent of Germans are against the war in Iraq and fully stand behind Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's tough stance against President Bush's war in Iraq.
While many of the actions are aimed at galvanizing larger boycotts of U.S. companies, others, like a doctor in the northern German town of Rendsburg, are making more personal anti-war statements.
A sign on the door to 61-year-old Eberhard Hoffmann's dermatology practice warns anyone from countries belonging to the U.S.-led alliance against seeking treatment from him.
"I forbid Americans and Britons, as well as anyone else who supports the war to enter my practice," he said. "The war in Iraq is a crime."
Hoffmann acknowledged, however, that he has no U.S. or British patients.