French container ship giant CMA CGM is to slash freight rates by about 10% for some domestic clients after coming under pressure from the government to help ease the cost of living crisis.

Finance minister Bruno Le Maire had earlier this week appealed to the owner and energy major TotalEnergies to bring down costs for hard-pressed consumers.

CMA CGM has now said it will reduce rates by €500 ($520) per feu for large French retailers for a year from 1 August.

This applies to consumer products, the group said in a statement.

The French shipowner called on retail chains to pass this saving on to customers by cutting their own prices.

The group also revealed the same cut to rates for all imports to French overseas territories.

This amounts to a reduction of between 10% and 20%, depending on the destination.

The French government has not yet imposed a windfall tax on companies’ big profits but is instead asking individual firms to take action.

TotalEnergies on Thursday said it had increased a summer discount on French fuel prices by €0.02.

“A small number of companies have during the crisis made profits in sectors such energy or transport. I want them to give me strong proposals so that they give back a part of their profits to the French people,” Le Maire told C News TV.

“This can take the form of a rebate on fuel prices or proposals by transport firms like CMA CGM. If they choose against not doing more, we will take our responsibilities,” he added.

CMA CGM’s first-quarter profit ballooned to more than $7bn, but the world’s third-largest container ship operator still holds a cautious outlook in the face of rising inflation and energy costs.

The Rodolphe Saade-led owner of 199 vessels, which charters in another 380 ships, reported $7.2bn in net income for the first quarter, blowing away the profit of $2.08bn from a year earlier.

Marseilles-based CMA CGM’s shipping revenue spiked to $14.8bn, representing a 73% jump from a year ago in a sector that is enjoying unprecedented strength due to supply-chain woes.