The French viticulture will benefit from aid to face the terrible crisis which affects it, notably linked to the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic but also to American taxes, the government announced on Monday 11 May 2020.

The government will make exemptions from social security contributions for very small and very small businesses in the wine sector and is setting up a crisis distillation system of 140 million euros, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire announced on his Twitter account on Monday evening, without further details.

Measures lower, at least for distillation, than demanded by the French wine industry last week.

The wine-growers asked for the authorization of a crisis distillation at least three million hectoliters of surplus wine for a budget of 260 million euros including stills, after the drop in consumption due to the closure of cafes and restaurants and the drop in exports to the United States due to taxes imposed in October by the Trump administration.

This distillation must in particular be used to make hydroalcoholic gel.

A compensation fund requested from Europe

Today, two million hectoliters are announced by the ministers. We say it takes three million hectoliters to support the markets and make it possible to restart a campaign in less difficult situations, said Bernard Farges, president of the Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux Wine (CIVB).

On the exemptions of loads, that remains still vague, it is necessary to work more, to examine the needs, he added, referring to difficulties that accumulate each month for companies.

In general, Mr. Farges spoke of clear but insufficient answers at the moment, calling on the government to do several additional steps.

The ministers insisted that the proposed plan is a first step and that there will be a reorganization clause organized in the coming weeks to strengthen the plan if necessary, in particular via additional aid to distilleries, said the Ministry of Agriculture in a statement.

Finally, Bruno Le Maire spoke of France’s intention to renew its request to Europe with a compensation fund to support the wine sector, faced with the 25% customs duties introduced last October by the United States on French, Spanish and German wines of less than 14 degrees, in reprisal for the transatlantic aeronautical conflict.

France is the second world producer of wine behind Italy in volume, but the first exporter in value, with 12.2 billion euros of wine and brandy sold abroad in 2018, representing more than 2 billion bottles in more than 200 countries.

This sector generates some 500,000 direct and indirect jobs in France.

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