Red, white and sacré bleu!

The Trump administration is threatening tariffs on French cheese and wine, escalating the worldwide trade war. French wine and cheese are the primary victims of the tariffs, although aircraft and motorcycles will also be affected. The total cost of the tariffs is estimated to reach around $11 billion, in addition to the cost of the tariffs placed on European metals last year.

The dispute goes much deeper than cheese. The USA has long complained about EU subsidies given to Airbus, the main competitor of Boeing, which is itself struggling after the mechanical faults found in the 737 MAX planes. Trump also has a habit of targeting world leaders against whom he has a personal grudge – the US President has been highly critical of Germany and its automotive industry after several clashes with Angela Merkel, even attempting to place tariffs on German cars before being informed that it would affect the thousands of workers in US factories, where a lot of German-branded cars are made.

If the cheese tariffs go ahead, the likely result will be an increased price of French wine and cheese like Roquefort, along with balsamic vinegar, Champagne and certain seafoods.

While significant, this may not yet be the start of a trade war on the scale of that with China. European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and Trump met last July, and they both agreed to “work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods.” However, the negotiations are yet to take place.

It isn’t the first time a world leader has taken on French food – Vladimir Putin was the last in 2014, targeting French food in response to Western sanctions following Russia’s invasion of the Crimean Peninsula. Putin claimed that it would give Russia the chance to rediscover its own food identity – the French weren’t too fussed.