Trump’s Cheese Tariffs May Be His Most Normal Trade Policy

If you’re a fan of European cheeses, I’m sorry to report the price outlook is not Gouda.

The U.S. and the European Union have a long-running trade dispute over airplane subsidies. Each side alleges that the other is subsidizing its major commercial-aircraft manufacturer (Boeing and Airbus, respectively) in violation of World Trade Organization rules. The WTO says both sides are right: Boeing and Airbus both receive improper subsidies. Soon, the WTO will say how much in retaliatory tariffs each side may impose to punish the other for these violations. And in preparation for that decision, the U.S. has prepared a list of $25 billion worth of European exports we might subject to 100 percent tariffs.

The list reads like an order sheet from Dean & DeLuca.

Tariffs may be applied to cheeses including Gouda, Stilton, Roquefort, and Parmigiano-Regianno. Olive oil. Olives. Dried cherries. Apricot jam, peach jam, currant jelly, pear juice. Ham, including Proscuitto di Parma, Jamón Ibérico, Jambon de Bayonne and any of the other delicious European hams. Wine. Whiskey. Brandy (e.g., Cognac). If you might buy it to throw a fabulous cocktail party, it may soon be subject to a prohibitive tariff.

Meanwhile, the EU has released its own list of goods it might tariff because of our subsidies to Boeing — it includes live lobsters, orange juice, and rum.

Donald Trump, who doesn’t drink, says you shouldn’t worry about wine tariffs because the best wines are American anyway. But while high tariffs that upset coastal snobs would seem to combine two of Trump’s passions, his strategy of threatening these tariffs is actually one of the more ordinary parts of his trade policy. Long before Trump was president, the U.S. and Europe have exchanged punitive tariffs on luxury and specialty goods as tools to push for resolutions to valid trade grievances [ . . . ]

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Can The French Still Afford To Eat Their Own Food?

Aside from wine sales, the French agricultural sector is struggling to compete with cheaper, more intensively-farmed goods from overseas—are French people finding it difficult to buy French food?

France is incredibly protective of its agricultural sector—it has been the sticking point between France and the U.S. in the negotiation of their new trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).  President Donald Trump has been threatening to increase tariffs on French food as a result of France not agreeing to include the agricultural sector in the trading agreements (France wants only non-auto “industrial goods” included and specifically not meat, fruit or wine).

Part of the problem is that France is resistant to allowing food to be mass-produced or intensively farmed; it wants to preserve the traditional ways of farming, of which it is proud. This means though, that food is much cheaper when it is produced by farmers in other European countries who don’t adhere to as strict agricultural standards as the French.

Christiane Lambert, chairwoman of the French Farmers’ Union reported in The Times, that President Emmanuel Macron’s approach to agriculture was pricing French food out of the market. “He told us to go upmarket but in the first six months of this year we imported a lot more poultry from Poland and Germany because it is cheaper,” she said. It has come to the point when French people cannot afford to buy their own food.

The deficit to the French economy is about €300 million, but many believe it’s a worrying sign and a marker of the health of the agricultural sector in general—even French cheese is suffering as consumers are increasingly turning to cheese from Ireland or the Netherlands (the growth appears to be in more “industrially-produced” cheeses for pizza toppings).

The only part of the food and drinks sector which is buoyant is the alcohol industry, where sales of wine and cognac are still far outselling imports, notably due to a huge increase of sales in the U.S and China of French wine. The French government reported in May that this success might be masking a more dire warning for the French agricultural sector in general.

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On the Agenda: Everything that’s happening in France this week

Here’s a look at the big news and cultural events that will take place in France this week.

Monday May 27th 

Monday marks the beginning of three days of industrial action for the public sector, with seven trade unions calling on public sector workers to mobilise from Monday to Wednesday in opposition to the controversial government reforms.

However this week’s action will not include strikes but instead will focus on debates, press conferences, gatherings and meetings with elected officials.
The government is planning public sector reforms which would lead to the greater use of contract workers for some state services and a cut of 120,000 jobs by 2022 out of 5.6 million. [ . . . ]

Continue at: On the Agenda: Everything that’s happening in France this week