Most French approve of Trump’s visit (even after all he’s said about France)

Even after everything the US president has said about Paris and France in the past, most French people approve of him being invited to the annual July 14th parade on the Champs-Elysées. Although there will be pockets of French resistance.

Most French approve of Trump's visit (even after all he's said about France)
Photo: AFP

Donald Trump hasn't been too kind when speaking about France in the past.

“Ask the people of France how they're doing? Not good I tell you. In fact really really bad. In fact people don't even want to go there anymore.”

These were Trump's words to a campaign rally. He also said that France was at fault for the terror attacks it had suffered “Because they allowed people to come into their territory.”

And basing his opinions of the country and its capital on reports from his mystery friend called Jim, who “loves the City of Lights” Trump famously told a press conference that “France is no longer France” and that Jim, a “substantial guy” had advised him not to travel there.

And in other statements he said the same about Paris, all based of course on the views of his friend Jim.

His words even became a YouTube hit.

Trump was suggesting the string of Jihadist terror attacks had changed the country and left the City of Lights as one big no-go zone.

His words caused anger across this side of the Atlantic, with the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo calling him “unfriendly” and then then PM Manuel Valls called him “a bad man”.

Ex-President François Hollande accused Trump of showing “disrespect to an ally” and asked him to stop criticizing his country as it tried to recover from the deadly terrorist attacks.

Here at The Local, we tried to convince Trump that despite everything that had happened France was indeed still France.

Yet over a year on Trump touched down on French soil for the first time as president and while he may be reminded of his words during his brief trip, there is hardly anger on the streets of Paris over his visit.

While the US president recently postponed a planned to trip to London because he didn't want to go if there were large scale protests, an opinion poll in France this week revealed most French people approved of him being invited to the annual Bastille Day celebrations on Friday.

France is still France whatever Donald Trump might say

The poll by the Elabe polling agency showed that 59 percent of French people backed the decision to invite the controversial US president, although right-wing voters were far more likely to approve than those on the left.

While some politicians criticized French President Emmanuel Macron's invitation to Trump as “unworthy” after he announced he would withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement”, most appear to agree that despite the US president's stance on climate and trade, France still needed its “oldest ally”.

“Whatever you think, the United States is still the United States and we need them on lots of issues. You can't just say 'Trump is there so let's wait until he's gone',” Manuel Lafont-Rapnouil, an expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank told AFP. “Even if it is very difficult to handle someone as unpredictable as him, you need to try to salvage what you can.”

The fact this year's annual Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysées is to commemorate the 100th anniversary of America's involvement in World War One, meant the US president was always likely to be invited, no matter who was in the White House.

In fact France's invitation to the White House has been planned for a long time, with Macron simply re-sending it after becoming president in May.

But that's not to say there won't be some resistance to Trump's presence in Paris and much of it will come from disillusioned Americans.

For a start the French branch of Democrats Abroad is planning to protest on Thursday evening at the Memorial to American Volunteers at Place des Etats-Unis near Avenue Iena.

“Democrats Abroad France will be gathering to demonstrate our support for the fight for freedom and democratic values and our opposition to the policies of Trump,” said a statement from the group.

The Facebook group “Paris Against Trump”, which counts around 1,500 members, is also trying to mobilize support and will present at two other protests in the city during Trump's visit.

On Thursday evening a “No Trump Zone” has been declared in the Place de la Republique by the social movement Nuits Debouts and on Friday at 14:00 Le Front Social is organizing a demo From Place de Clichy to Barbes in the north of the city.

While the protest is not specifically against the US president, we can expect to see some anti-Trump banners.

“Trump is not welcome in Paris,” said the “No Trump Zone event's Facebook page in French. “We are opposed to his positions on the climate crisis, his international politics against migrants, his sexist speeches and behavior, his Islamophobia and racist remarks, his military plans around the world and his neo-liberalism and capitalism.”

Trump might expect some other surprises throughout his trip with calls to block his access to the Champs-Elysées parade on Friday.

Trump however is unlikely to be phased by any of these protests.

For a start he will be protected by an almost unprecedented level of security far from the protests and will spend his time in Paris, being treated to pomp, pageantry and posh cuisine at a plush Eiffel Tower restaurant.

French authorities will be hoping his trip goes smoothly and he can report back to his friend Jim that in fact Paris really is still Paris.









‘I like the way they look’: Teetotaler Trump prefers US wine to French

Wine connoisseurs talk about needing "a nose" to assess the quality of a vintage. President Donald Trump just uses his eyes.

'I like the way they look': Teetotaler Trump prefers US wine to French
US President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the Oval Office July 26th. Photo: AFP

A famous teetotaler, Trump raised eyebrows Friday with his insistence that he likes US wine more than the French version. How could he know?

“I've always said American wine is better than French wine!” the president tweeted, while warning that he may raise import tariffs on France's iconic drink due to a dispute over French taxes targeting US tech companies.

Later in the Oval Office, he explained his technique.

“I don't drink wine. I just like the way they look.”

Trump vowed “substantial” retaliation against France for a tax targeting US tech giants, threatening to slap tariffs on French wine and bemoaning 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.

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.

Britain has announced plans for a similar tax.

Deputy White House spokesman Judd Deere noted that France's digital services tax was already the subject of an investigation at the US Trade Representative's office, potentially opening the door to economic sanctions.

Washington is “extremely disappointed by France's decision to adopt a digital services tax at the expense of US companies and workers,” Deere said.

“The Trump administration has consistently stated that it will not sit idly by and tolerate discrimination against US-based firms,” he said in a statement.
“The administration is looking closely at all other policy tools.”

Wine from the likes of California does face higher barriers than European imports in the other direction.

Depending on the type and alcohol content, imported wine faces US duties of 5.3 cents to 12.7 cents (5 to 12 euro centimes) a bottle, according to the US International Trade Commission. Sparkling wines are taxed a higher rate of about 14.9 cents a bottle.

US wines shipped to the European Union face duties of 11 to 29 cents a bottle, according to the Wine Institute, a trade body promoting US exports.

According to France's Federation for Wine and Spirit Exporters, a bottle of American white wine with an alcohol volume of 13 percent will be subjected to an 11-cent tax, while an equivalent bottle of European wine would pay about half that to enter the US.

The EU is the biggest importer of US wines. However, American wine exports are dwarfed in volume by the far bigger output from France, Italy and Spain.

READ ALSO: Trump orders investigation into France's planned tax on tech giants