France tells Trump: Your threat to tax French wine is ‘stupid’

France's agriculture minister on Tuesday slammed US President Donald Trump's argument behind threatened tariffs on French wines as "absurd" and "stupid", as a row between Paris and Washington over taxing tech giants intensified.

France tells Trump: Your threat to tax French wine is 'stupid'
Photo: AFP

France drew an angry response from Trump when it became the first major economy to impose a tax on digital giants earlier this month.

The GAFA tax — an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon — aims to plug a fiscal loophole that has seen some internet heavyweights pay next to nothing in countries where they make huge profits.

The US president blasted the reform and pledged to retaliate with “substantial reciprocal action on (French President Emmanuel) Macron's foolishness” in a tweet last week.

When asked if French wine could be a target, Trump replied: “Might be on wine or something else.”

“I've always said American wine is better than French wine!” added the US president, who insists he is a teetotaller, in a none too subtle threat of tariffs.

“It's absurd, as a political and economic debate, to say 'you're taxing the GAFAs, so we're going to tax your wine'. It's completely stupid,” French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume told French TV channel BFM.

He also argued that “American wine is not better than French wine”.

“We're taxing the GAFAs simply because they make huge profits of millions or billions of euros or dollars, while employing French workers. There's no reason they shouldn't pay their taxes”.

“This is the third time the US president has threatened a tax, the third time in a year. We'll see if he goes through with it,” added Guillaume. 

The minister's comments came after French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire tried to defuse tensions with the US, pledging to reach a deal on taxing tech firms by the end of the G7 summit in late August.

“There is no desire to specifically target American companies,” Le Maire said Saturday, as the three-percent tax would hit all of the world's largest tech firms who generate revenues from French consumers, including Chinese and European ones.

France has said it would withdraw the tax if an international agreement was reached, and Paris hopes to include all OECD countries by the end of 2020.

Le Maire had earlier this month hosted G7 finance ministers, including US counterpart Steven Mnuchin, for talks outside Paris. Le Maire said at the time a major agreement was reached in the tax conflict but Mnuchin cautioned there was more work to be done.

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‘We have a lot to do’: Macron congratulates Joe Biden on winning US presidential election

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday congratulated US president-elect Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris on their election victory.

'We have a lot to do': Macron congratulates Joe Biden on winning US presidential election
Joe Biden. AFP

“The Americans have chosen their president,” said Macron

“We have a lot to do to overcome today's challenges. Let's work together!” Macron tweeted, in French and English, after major US media networks announced Biden's victory over incumbent Donald Trump.

Macron has never met Biden, who will in January become the 46th president of the United States.

France under Macron is keen for Europe to move away from its reliance on US military might, for defence in particular.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo reacted to Biden's win by saying “Welcome back America”.


Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday reinforced recent statements from Paris that the nature of US-EU relations had permanently changed under Trump.

Europe needs to build a “new trans-atlantic relationship, which is a new partnership” irrespective of who wins, he said then.

“We cannot go back to the status quo ante, to a kind of good old days in the trans-atlantic relationship,” as Europe affirms its sovereignty in security, defence and strategic autonomy, Le Drian added.

Apart from the far right, the French political class generally hailed Biden's victory at the polls, which saw him win more votes than any other US president in history.

Former French president Francois Hollande, who was in office when Trump came to power in 2016, welcomed the “good news for American democracy”.

Biden has promised to return the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement after Trump pulled out of it.

Hollande hailed the “happy news for the planet with the return of United States in the climate agreement”.