France is a major wine producer but as a member of the 28-member European bloc it does not set its own trade policy or tariffs. When defending his use of tough tariffs on China during an interview with CNBC, the US leader said: “You know, France charges us a lot for the wine and yet we charge them very little for French wine.” Mr Trump added American winemakers had complained to him that French wine can be imported into the US “for nothing,” but they have to pay steep duties to export their wine into France. “And you know what, it’s not fair. We’ll do something about it,” he said. “We have great wine too.” This is not the first time Mr Trump lashes out at France for its expensive wine. In a Twitter rant in November last year, he accused the top wine exporter of making it “very hard” for US winemakers to sell their wines into France.
“On Trade, France makes excellent wine, but so does the US. The problem is that France makes it very hard for the US to sell its wines into France, and charges big Tariffs, whereas the US makes it easy for French wines, and charges very small Tariffs. Not fair, must change!” Mr Trump, whose son Eric owns a winery in Virginia, tweeted.
European Union import tariffs on wine are higher than US ones on European wines, and EU consumers buy less of the American product.
But as part of the 28-member Brussels bloc, France – despite being a major wine producer – does not set its own trade policy or tariffs.
The United States, for its part, charges some of the lowest wine tariffs of any major wine-producing country, according to the Wine Institute, a California-based trade group.
While American wines shipped to the EU face duties ranging from 11 to 29 cents per bottle, European wines face duties ranging from 5 to 14 cents per bottle when shipped to the US.
In 2018, French wine and spirits exports to the US grew 4.6 percent to $3.6billion (£2.8billion), according to industry figures, making the US the most profitable market for French exports.
But between 2007 and 2018, US wine exports to France tripled and Europe was the biggest export destination for American wines, according to French customs figures.
Since coming to power in 2017, Mr Trump has launched bitter trade disputes with almost all major world powers, prompting the EU to slap new tariffs on American bourbon in June last year.
Washington and Brussels are now preparing to begin negotiations on a trade deal in an effort to end last year’s tariff war.
The EU has approved two areas for negotiation – one to cut tariffs on industrial goods, the other to make it easier for companies to show products meet EU or US standards.
But officials in Brussels have repeatedly stressed they will not discuss agriculture, drawing the ire of the Trump administration, which wants farm access to Europe.
“Agriculture is a significant piece of the global economy and it simply doesn’t make sense to leave it out,” US Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the tax and trade-focused Senate Finance Committee, said in April.
The bloc’s Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, however, has said that agriculture “is a red line for Europe” and ruled out including it in a future deal.
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