Macron and Trump edge towards trade truce
Wine industry breathes a sigh of relief as talks appear to be bearing fruit
Corks could be popping across France this week, particularly in its acclaimed wine regions, as Presidents Macron and Trump look set to agree on a temporary truce in their ongoing trade spat.
President Donald Trump had threatened to impose 100 per cent tariffs on $2.4bn (£1.84bn, €2.16bn) of French made goods, such as cheese, wine and designer clothes, in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s Digital Tax. Last July he tweeted: “We will announce a substantial reciprocal action on Macron’s foolishness shortly. I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine!”
Having repeatedly described the current system as “crazy”, the French leader had sought to force American tech giants operating in France to pay a greater share of tax. In July 2019 the French government applied a three per cent revenue levy on digital services earned by companies with revenues of more than €25m in France and €750m globally.
Although no formal decision has yet been announced, following discussions yesterday afternoon the White House stated that President Trump: “agreed it is important to complete successful negotiations on the digital services tax."
Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “Great discussion with @realDonaldTrump on digital tax. We will work together on a good agreement to avoid tariff escalation.”
Such an escalation would have caused negative outcomes on both sides of the Atlantic. While French wine producers may have worried about their access into one of the most lucrative markets in the world, American wine importers also protested against the plans arguing that such measures would destroy American jobs and damage an entire industry.
Importers are already having to deal with a 25 per cent tariff on French wine which was introduced following the World Trade Organisation’s confirmation that the French government did provide illegal subsidies to help Airbus compete with its American rival Boeing.
Further tariffs may have been put on ice, with the two set for further talks at this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos. However, should a framework not be agreed upon by the end of 2020, the dispute could resume once again.
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