US President Donald Trump vowed “substantial” retaliation against France on Friday for a tax targeting US tech giants, threatening to slap tariffs on French wine and blasting President Emmanuel Macron’s “foolishness.” “France just put a digital tax on our great American technology companies,” Trump tweeted about the law, which targets US giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.“We will announce a substantial reciprocal action on Macron’s foolishness shortly,” he said. Later, he confirmed earlier hints that wine may be the target. “Might be on wine or something else,” he told reporters. Trump and Macron spoke on the phone Friday, discussing the digital services tax among other issues, the White House said. It did not say whether potential tariffs on French wine were part of the conversation.
Trump, a proud teetotaler, said he’d “always liked American wines better than French wines even though I don’t drink.”
Explaining how he comes to that preference, he noted: “I just like the way they look.” French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire indicated that Paris was not backing down on its tech taxes. “Universal taxation of digital activities is a challenge for us all. We want to reach an agreement within the G7 and the OECD. In the meantime, France will implement its national decisions,” Le Maire said. Trump has generally got along well with Macron, avoiding some of the more stormy episodes marring traditionally stable relations with other close US allies in Europe and Asia. But his drive to correct what he sees as unfair trade practices by allies and rivals alike has stirred unprecedented discord. And this is not the first time that he has mused about taking aim at France’s renowned wine industry. In June, he told CNBC television that domestic wine makers had complained to him about the difficulties of entering the European market. “You know what? It’s not fair. We’ll do something about it,” he said. The current row, however, is linked to a law passed by the French parliament this month on taxing digital companies for income even if their headquarters are elsewhere. This would aim directly at US-based global giants like Amazon.