Trump vows to ‘do something’ about EU wine duties

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US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One as they depart Shannon international airport en route to Washington, in Shannon, Ireland. (Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

US President Donald Trump on Monday lashed out at France for unfair tariffs on “great” American wine.

Trump, who famously does not drink alcohol, said he would work to open the European market to American wine exports, again accusing France of creating unfair trade barriers.

“France charges us a lot for the wine and yet we charge them very little for French wine,” Trump said on CNBC.

US producers complain that French wines get to American shelves “for nothing,” he said, adding “it’s not fair and we’ll do something about it.”

“We have great wine, too.”

Washington and Brussels are preparing to begin negotiations on a trade deal to resolve a battle Trump began last year by putting tariffs on steel and aluminum. But EU officials have said repeatedly they will not discuss agriculture.

In a Twitter outburst late last year, Trump likewise complained about wine trade.

European Union import duties on wine are higher than US tariffs on European wines, and EU consumers buy less of the American product. France is a major wine producer but as part of the 28-member block does not set its own trade policy or tariffs.

Depending on the type and alcohol content, imported wine faces US duties of 5.3 cents to 12.7 cents a bottle, according to the US International Trade Commission. Sparkling wines are taxed a higher rate of about 14.9 cents a bottle.

But US wines shipped to the EU face duties of 11 to 29 cents a bottle, according to the Wine Institute, a trade body promoting American exports.

In 2017, the United States imported US$4.5 billion in European wine but sold only US$553 million to Europe.

Still, between 2007 and 2018, French customs figures show, US exports to France tripled and Europe was by far the largest export destination for American wines.

Source: AFP/nh via CNA