U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday spoke out in favor of “great” American wine when he promised to confront France over unfair tariffs on the imported product.
The famously teetotal president said he would work to open the broader European market to American wine exports, accusing France of protecting its own producers at the cost of fairer trans-Atlantic trade.
“France charges us a lot for the wine and yet we charge them very little for French wine,” Trump said on CNBC.
U.S. 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.”
This is not the first time Mr. Trump has spoken in favor of U.S. wine producers.
The president noted last year both countries made excellent wine, but said that France had prohibitive tariffs compared to the United States.
“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,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Not fair, must change!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018
The U.S. charges a bare tariff of 5 cents per 750 milliliter bottle of imported still wine and 14 cents for sparkling wine, according to the Wine Institute, an advocacy group for California winemakers. This contrasts with European Union tariffs for imported wine which ranges from 11 cents to 29 cents per bottle, according to the group.
“High tariff rates constitute the single most restrictive barrier to U.S. wine exports,” the group says on its website.
The U.S. is the biggest client for E.U. wine producers, absorbing almost a third of the bloc’s exports in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the E.U.’s statistical office.
By contrast, the U.S. accounts for only 16 percent of the E.U.’s wine imports, well behind Chile and also trailing Australia, Time reports.