Paris outlines response to US wine tariffs

International trade – Taxation of French wines by the United States – Reply by M. Didier Guillaume, Minister of Agriculture and Food, to a question in the Senate (excerpts)

Paris, 24 October 2019

Amélie de Montchalin replied to M. Yung about the overall situation of all industries. So I’ll answer you more specifically regarding French wine. As the Minister of State said, the whole government is mobilized.

Bruno Le Maire was in Washington only a few hours ago to try and get the Americans’ position to shift, which will probably be difficult.

We wouldn’t like to wait six months and then impose other sanctions in turn – there would be nothing positive about such a tit-for-tat approach.

So we’re prioritizing compromise solutions, but we’re not totally confident they’ll arrive immediately.

We’ve therefore tried to mobilize the European Commission (…). At the Council of Agriculture Ministers on 14 October, I spoke on behalf of Italy, Spain and France to request solidarity from the member states. I asked the Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, who is still in post for a few days, to ensure Europe takes some decisions.

We absolutely must take strong decisions:

Firstly, express European solidarity;

Secondly, establish economic maintenance assistance;

Thirdly, seek new markets; otherwise, the wine sector will experience major difficulties.

Every region is currently affected. For the entry-level and bulk wines being targeted, we’re talking about more than €300 million. If no compensation were forthcoming, I think the wine sector – which, as you rightly said, is already encountering a few difficulties – would have trouble recovering.

That’s why today I sent a new letter to the European Commissioner to ask him to ensure the Commission funds the swift implementation of promotion programmes – it’s absolutely essential; that safeguards are provided to the operators implementing those same measures, because operators are currently having a tough time; and finally, that European solidarity is exercised with regard to the WTO’s decisions.

Yesterday I hosted a meeting of representatives of the wine sector. They have proposals to make. We’re currently studying them in order to make progress./.

Published on 08/01/2020

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