Thursday 23 January 2020

Mid-price French wine exports lose fizz after Washington tariffs hit

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Gus Trompiz

Exports of mid-range French wines have dropped due to tariffs imposed by the United States in October over disputed aircraft subsidies, a French minister said yesterday.

French wine was among European Union products, including Scotch whisky and Italian cheese, targeted with a 25pc duty, after the World Trade Organisation gave Washington the green light to impose tariffs in a long-running case over subsidies to European plane maker Airbus.

"We can see an impact, notably for mid-range wines which are the most affected," Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, France's junior foreign affairs minister, said regarding the US tariffs.

"The French wine and spirits sectors have been worried since the autumn," he told Reuters in an interview.

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He declined to put a figure on the drop but added that November trade data to be released by the French customs service today would give an initial indication of the impact.

The United States is the largest export market for French wine. Duties would apply on shipments worth $1bn (€897m) in 2018.

France's federation of wine exporters warned in October that mid-range wines were most at risk of losing US market share due to any retail price increase linked to tariffs.

The wine industry is also bracing for possible further US tariffs in a separate dispute over a French tax on digital services. Washington has threatened tariffs on French goods including champagne, worth over $700m a year in US exports.

Mr Lemoyne said US-French discussions should be pursued to find a settlement and avoid tit-for-tat tariffs, echoing comments by France's finance minister yesterday.

He also reiterated European calls for Washington to negotiate an overall agreement with the EU on aircraft subsidies.


Irish Independent

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