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French Fuel Sellers Struggle After State Margin Curb, Lobby Says

French retail fuel distributors are struggling to survive a government measure to lower prices at the pump, according to a lobby group.

“We made some people happy for a few euros and as a result a lot could lose their jobs,” said Christian Roux, president of the CNPA representing 5,500 independent fuel distributors across France. As many as half its small business members may fail to survive the measures, which are hurting profit margins, he said.

Roux spoke after a meeting today between distributors and ministers on measures announced Aug. 28 to cut fuel prices for consumers. The country gave a 3 cent a liter tax rebate on fuel for three months and got distributors to almost match the drop.

The decrease is “extremely satisfactory,” French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said. Longer lasting measures would be announced at the end of the three months that began Aug. 28.

The government has been under pressure to ameliorate prices that had risen to a record for diesel after President Francois Hollande promised a temporary freeze in his election campaign. The country scrapped a freeze in favor of a tax rebate combined with a lowering of profit margins made on distribution.

“People have to accept oil prices are global and they rise and fall,” Roux said. “No election promise can change this.”

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