PARIS (Reuters) – France on Tuesday urged the European Commission to respond swiftly to its demand to compensate French winegrowers for U.S. trade tariffs as Washington added new levies on the sector.
The US government said on Monday it would start collecting new duties on certain non-sparkling wines as well as cognacs and other eaux-de-vie from France, among other products from France and Germany, after failing to resolve a 16-year dispute over aircraft subsidies with the European Union.
French wine growers have already seen shipments to the United States plummet last year after the Trump administration hit them with a first round of 25% tariffs in the trade dispute.
The initial move prompted a call from Paris for a compensation fund from the European Commission, which Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday had so far not been heard.
“I regret the slowness with which the European Commission responds to our request for a compensation fund. This sector is hard hit and needs European support, ”said Le Maire at a press conference.
“I want the European Commission to react quickly to our compensation fund proposal,” Le Maire said, adding that resolving US trade tensions would be a priority when he meets the new Biden administration.
The French Federation of Wine Exporters said in late December that the additional tariffs would cost the industry more than one billion euros ($ 1.21 billion).
The Mayor said he wanted winemakers to be able to defer repayment of state-guaranteed loans and that limits to be increased on their access to a government distribution fund for businesses struggling to cope with the coronavirus crisis.
“We must find solutions and get out of this conflict which is a Boeing-Airbus conflict of which wine is a collateral victim,” Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie said at a separate press conference.
(1 USD = 0.8232 euros)