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French winemakers say tariffs risk 100,000 jobs

US import tariffs may cost 100,000 wine industry jobs in France, trade leaders have warned as pressure grows on president Emmanuel Macron to find ways to help the sector.

Jean-Marie Barillère, president of France’s council for appellation wines, CNIV, said US import tariffs were putting at least 100,000 jobs at risk in the country’s wine sector.

The French wine industry employs 500,000 people directly and indirectly, according to CNIV figures.

Barillère’s comments came during a press conference at the annual Paris international agriculture show, SIA, and follow news that the 25% tariffs on French still wines at 14% abv or below will continue.

Exports of French wine have already been dented by the tariffs, which were introduced on 18 October 2019 as part of a dispute between the EU and US over subsidies paid to European firm Airbus. Spanish, German and UK still wines are also affected.

Macron promises help

French president Emmanuel Macron met wine industry leaders on Saturday (22 February) amid growing pressure for him to find ways to support winemakers.

A €300m emergency compensation fund has been requested by French wine and spirits export body FEVS.

One wine trade representative present at Saturday’s meeting with Macron told Reuters that the president had promised to get a compensation deal in place by spring.

Macron previously said he has raised the issue with the European Commission, which may need to approve any state aid package.

Louis-Fabrice Latour, vice-president of FEVS and head of the Louis Latour negotiant house, told Decanter.com recently that smaller-scale wineries could be worst-affected if the tariffs continue.

Bigger picture

It’s almost obligatory for any sitting French president to attend the annual Paris agriculture show, but 2020 is a particularly big year at EU level.

The European Commission is working on the EU budget, which includes money for the bloc’s Common Agricultural Policy.

There is also the prospect of post-Brexit trade talks with the UK, in which tariffs and border arrangements will be key on both sides of the English Channel.

See also: 

‘Deceptive’ rise for French wine exports in 2019


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