France fury: Macron allies accuse EU of dragging feet over compensation for US tariffs

European wine industry faces ‘more pain’ according to expert

US Customs and Border Protection yesterday announced swathes of new punitive sanctions on trade between the EU and America in retaliation against subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The new retaliatory measures, which threaten to plunge European businesses into chaos, have targeted French wines and certain aircraft parts. French wine and cognac makers face a fresh 25 percent trade levy when exporting to the US, while aircraft parts included on the list will be subject to a 15 percent tariff.

The sanctions come in addition to those imposed on a list of EU products in 2019, including french wines of less than 14 percent, which sparked a collapse in French wine exports to the US.

Washington imposed the retaliatory measures after the World Trade Organisation deemed Brussels had refused to remove illegal subsidies from Airbus, a key rival of US aerospace giant Boeing.

French winemakers warned Americans would soon “turn to Californian wines, or other export markets that are not subject to taxes”.

Anthony Hurry, sales director for Chateau Puech-Haut wines, said: “It will be much more difficult for consumers to buy French wines.”

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The US is the leading non-European market for French winemakers in terms of value.

Americans bought £1.4 billion of French wines and spirits in 2019.

And together with the UK and China, the US makes up 50 percent of France’s overall wine and spirit sales.

Industry insiders believe the new tariffs will cost the sector more than £890 million in sales, with cognac expected to be hit particularly hard.

France has accused Brussels of being too hesitant in producing a compensation package for the country’s winemakers hit by the tariffs.

Finance minister Bruno Le Maire said: “I regret the slowness with which the European Commission is responding to our request about a compensation fund.

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“This sector is hard hit and needs European support.

“I want the European Commission to quickly react to our proposal for a compensation fund.”

Agriculture minister Julien Denormandie added: “We must find solutions and get out of this conflict which is a Boeing-Airbus conflict of which wine is a collateral victim.”

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Responding to the US tariff announcement, Eurocrats said: “The Commission takes note of today’s entry into force of US tariffs arising from the WTO Airbus case on aircraft subsidies.

“As we have made clear before, we regret that the United States chose to add further EU products to its retaliation list.”

Brussels insisted it is “looking forward to engaging constructively with the new US administration to resolve this long-standing dispute as part of a renewed transatlantic agenda.

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