French wine, cheese targeted in latest Trump trade fight

French wine tariff

Industry groups are sounding the alarm on President Trump’s proposal to hit $2.4 billion in French goods with tariffs, warning that the latest trade salvo will affect a broad array of goods and its effects fall on U.S. consumers and small businesses.

The administration has proposed tariffs on a wide number of French products, including cheese, sparkling wine and Champagne, beauty products, handbags and home goods, in retaliation for a French tax on online services that targets American tech giants such as Google and Amazon.

Trade watchers warned the scope of the tariffs would be broad and lead to stark price hikes for consumers.

In 2018, the average tariff rate on French imports was 2.9 percent, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Under Trump’s tariffs, new taxes could be up to 100 percent for many goods.

The trade between the two countries is significant. In 2018, the U.S. imported more than $700 million in wines, including sparkling wines like Champagne, and more than $200 million in dairy products such as cheese, according to the NRF.

But trade watchers say it’s not just food products, with France also a major supplier of luxury goods and beauty products to the U.S. The U.S. imported more than $950 million worth of French cosmetics and more than $400 million worth of handbags, the NRF said. Homeware products such as porcelain or fine china from France could also be hit by Trump’s new tariffs.

And the effects will be felt by more than just consumers, industry groups warn.

“Importers in many cases are small and medium-sized companies providing solid middle-class jobs in their local communities. These tariffs pose cost burdens on these United States companies that result in job losses,” Robert Tobiassen, president of the National Association of Beverage Importers, told The Hill.

“More tariffs will only hurt these businesses more,” Tobiassen added, saying that his group is urging the parties in the fight over digital taxes and a separate trade dispute about European subsidies for aircraft manufacturer Airbus to “negotiate and reach a settlement of these matters quickly.”

Amy Smith, policy adviser at Arnold & Porter, said the administration wouldn’t move forward with any tariffs until the new year, sparing consumers during the crucial holiday shopping season. [ . . . ]

Read full story at: French wine, cheese targeted in latest Trump trade fight | TheHill

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