France votes to lower "Nutella tax" on palm oil after protests over "arrogant" and "excessive" surcharge from international producers

 
Francesca Washtell
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Palm oil is an ingredient in the chocolate and hazelnut spread Nutella (Source: Getty)

In the same week that George Osborne announced a surprise sugar tax in the Budget here in the UK, France has voted to cut a tax on imported palm oil dubbed the "Nutella tax".

The surcharge of €300 per tonne of palm oil was originally approved by the country's upper chamber in a biodiversity bill after environmental groups launched campaigns against the use of the ingredient, which is used in the hazelnut and chocolate Nutella spread.

The Senate measure would have seen the tax rise to €500 in 2018, €700 in 2019 and €900 in 2020.

However, France's lower house has voted to see the tax raise to just a tenth of those levels, hitting a rate of €90 in 2020, following protests from palm oil producers in Malaysia and Indonesia who called the tax "excessive" and "arrogant".

The bill is at its second reading stage, meaning it will need to go back to the Senate, but deputes in the lower house will make the final decision.

It is the third time since 2012 that a palm oil tax has come up before France's parliament.

Barbara Pompili, a junior minister for biodiversity issues, said the new, lower tax is "more realistic".

Jean-Louis Bricout, a Socialist Party politician, said it would be out of the question to "suddenly destabilise supplies to companies in France or the revenue of the producers of these oils, who are mainly in developing countries".

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