During his visit to New York’s Hamptons for a fundraiser Aug. 9, the president reportedly told attendees he was thinking about hitting France where it may hurt most – by slapping a 100 percent tariff on French wine.
The president’s remarks, which two sources relayed to Bloomberg, were a follow-up to a Twitter message in late July, in which Trump wrote the U.S. planned “a substantial reciprocal action” against France for its digital tax on American tech.
That week, French President Emmanuel Macron approved what was called a digital services tax -- a 3 percent levy that targets global companies worth at least 750 million euros ($834 million) and 25 million euros in France. It will be retroactively applied from early 2019 and could generate up to 400 million euros per year for France.
Trump immediately denounced the French plan.
“If anybody taxes them, it should be their home Country, the USA,” Trump’s tweet said.
This coming Monday the U.S. Trade Representative’s office is scheduled to hold a public hearing with American tech leaders about the potential impact of France’s tax, the Bloomberg report said. Depending on their comments, trade boss Robert Lighthizer could recommend that Trump impose tariffs on France in response.
In his July tweet, Trump concluded with the line, “I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine” – even though Trump has claimed over the years that he never drinks alcohol.
“It might be on wine, it might be on something else,” Trump then told reporters about his plan.
Because France is part of the European Union, it’s unclear how Trump could specifically target the country without ensnaring the entire bloc.