Donald Trump surprised Twitter followers this morning with a micro-missive about how tariffs make it “very hard for the U.S. to sell its wines into France,” while “the U.S. makes it easy for French wines, and charges very small” tariffs. The POTUS also notes that “France makes excellent wine, but so does the U.S.” This message was part of a deluge of early morning tweets about France and its leader, President Emmanuel Macron, which also included digs at the country’s military history and unemployment rate, as well as a clarification about why the American president missed an event commemorating the end of World War 1 on Sunday (“the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility”).
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
As the Trump tweet correctly suggests, America does have an uneven relationship with France where wine importing and exporting is concerned. The United States is currently the biggest export market for French wine, while American bottles are not as popular in France, or across Europe in general. America pulls in about a third of all European Union wine exports — roughly $25 billion worth of product per year — according to a report by Bloomberg. Meanwhile, American wine makes up only about 16 percent of all EU imports. The EU tariffs on U.S. wine run between $0.11 to $0.29 per bottle, while the U.S. charges $0.05 and $0.14, Axios reports. With this morning’s tweet, Trump — a lifelong teetotaler — appears to be stoking the flames of a trade war with France, a move that could potentially put the squeeze on American winemakers, who are already fretting over increased tariffs on exports to China.
Escalating a trade war with France could also potentially cause headaches for bottle shop owners and the oenophiles who frequent their stores. “I’m not going to sell Beaujolais if a tariff causes the price per bottle to go from $20 to $40,” Maurice Amiel, a wine merchant in South Beach, Florida, recently told the New York Times. “I’d have to absorb a lot of the increase.” Higher tariffs would likely hurt the sale of lower and mid-priced bottles, since wine drinkers who are used to buying at the higher end probably would not be scared away by any mark-ups. “If they love the wine they’ll buy it, regardless of price,” Amiel said. Of course, if the trade war does make the cost of French wine prohibitively expensive for some Americans, this could also motivate stateside wine drinkers to embrace New World selections including Eric Trump’s own brand of hooch, which is made in Virginia.
No matter what comes of the trade war, Trump’s wine tweet has already spawned one great (if somewhat obscure) meme, referencing a brand that Orson Welles used to shill for: