Trump could target French wine with tariffs

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President Trump said Monday that he plans to “do something” about the European Union tariffs imposed on American wine, saying the U.S. pays too much to export wine to France while the U.S. imposed low tariffs to import French wine.

“France charges us a lot for the wine. And yet we charge them very little for French wine,” the president told CNBC, adding that California winemakers have complained to him about the EU tariffs.

“So the wineries come to me and say…’Sir, we’re paying a lot of money to put our product into France, and you’re letting’ -- meaning, this country is allowing -- ‘these French wines, which are great wines, but we have great wines too -- allowing it to come in for nothing. It’s not fair,”’ Trump said.

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Trump said the higher tariffs on American wine are “not fair” and pledged that his administration “will do something about it.”

The president previously mentioned French wine in a November 2018 tweet, claiming France makes it hard for the U.S. to sell wine in the country.

“On Trade, France makes excellent wine, but so does the U.S. The problem is that France makes it very hard for the U.S. to sell its wines into France, and charges big Tariffs, whereas the U.S. makes it easy for French wines, and charges very small Tariffs. Not fair, must change!” Trump wrote.

The European Union tariffs for imported wine are higher than those implemented by the U.S. The EU tariffs on a bottle of wine range from 11 cents to 29 cents, depending on the alcohol content, advocacy group Wine Institute reported. The U.S. tariff on imported French wine comes in a 5 cents per 750-milliliter bottle and 14 cents for sparkling wine.

Lionel Briand, communications chief for the French Customs office, previously told The Associated Press that the U.S. gets charged the same tariffs imposed on all non-EU countries.

“American products are not submitted to a distinct duty but to the same duties as all third countries,” Briand said.

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The United States is the leading importer of French wines by value, taking in 1.67 billion euros worth between Aug. 2017 and July 2018, according to FranceAgriMer, which works under the French Agriculture Ministry. The U.S. only accounts for about 16 percent of wine imports for the EU.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.