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Trump fires warning shot at French wine trade

US President Donald Trump has ignited a spat between the US and France by criticising France for its tariffs on US wine imports, which he claims are preventing US producers from selling their wines in France.

Following a contentious diplomatic trip to France, Trump fired off a series of tweets criticising French President Emmanuel Macron, mocking his suggestion of a European army and pointing out his low approval rating, before ending with a “Make France Great Again” jab at the nation.

He also raised the issue of tariffs on wines sold between the two countries, branding the current situation “not fair”.

“On Trade, France makes excellent wine, but so does the U.S,” Trump tweeted. “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!”

The US is currently the biggest export market for French wines, however the US imports very little wine into France. EU import duties on wine are higher than those imposed by the US.

However his comments were met with derision by many in the wine trade, including prominent US wine journalists, and bafflement by politicians in France that have been vocal supporters of Trump.

Responding to the tweet, Eric Asimov, wine critic for the New York Times, pointed out that the French may not be buying much American wine, “but it’s not because of high tariffs”.

“European wine regions have a centuries old practice of drinking local wines,” he tweeted. “This is heritage but it is slowly evolving. Still, it’s rare that anybody in Sicily will drink Tuscan wine and vice versa. You don’t see much Bordeaux in Burgundy, though you do see Burgundy in Bordeaux more and more. It’s a matter of tradition and of taste more than tariffs.”

As reported by The Guardian, the Rassemblement National (National Rally), Marine Le Pen’s far-right party, which had previously approved Trump, also criticised the US president over the attack.

Gilbert Collard, a politician who supported Le Pen’s party, said that although he felt Trump was “absolutely right” in all his attacks on Macron, he was “absolutely wrong on what he says about French wine”.

Trump has already started a trade war with China, having imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports into America. In retaliation, China announced a counter tariff on a raft of products imported by the US into China, including a 25% hike on American whiskey, and a 15% hike on American wine imports.

It was the latest in a line of protectionist measures imposed by Trump since taking office, designed to prioritise domestic production over imported goods.

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