November 13, 2018 / 4:01 PM / a month ago

Trump hits France with charge of 'not fair' wine trade practices

WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump hit out at France on Tuesday, accusing the world’s leading wine exporter of imposing unfair trade practices that kept U.S. producers out of the French wine market, although he did not provide any details.

“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, whose son owns and operates a winery in the state of Virginia, wrote on Twitter.

After a recent visit to France, where President Emmanuel Macron indirectly criticized Trump in comments about the dangers of nationalism, Trump unleashed a torrent of Twitter posts on Tuesday, alternately lashing out at France and explaining his behavior while there. (reut.rs/2z3N9VK)

Since his 2017 inauguration, Trump has ramped up trade battles with almost all the major world economies, leading the European Union in June to slap new tariffs on one of the most popular U.S. alcoholic beverages, bourbon.

The United States charges some of the lowest wine tariffs of any major wine-producing country, according to the Wine Institute, a California-based trade group. While its wine faces a European Union levy ranging from 11 to 29 cents per bottle, it charges tariffs of 5 to 14 cents per bottle on wine imports.

It also has a large trade imbalance, exporting $1.48 billion of wine last year, which created a deficit of $4.7 billion, according to the International Trade Centre. France represented $1.8 billion of that gap.

France, meanwhile, exported $10.3 billion of wine last year, with the United States buying the largest share, 17.5 percent.

Trump’s son Eric owns and operates Trump Winery, which claims to have the largest vineyard in Virginia. (Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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