The U.S. Trade Representative’s office has decided to maintain the 25% tariffs imposed in October on French wine, Scotch whisky, Italian cheese, and dozens of other agricultural products in response to its more than decade-old spat with the Netherlands-based
according to a statement released early Friday evening.
The decision means that for now, the USTR will not hit the wine and spirits industry with tariffs that could have risen as high as 100% on a wider range of products than initially affected. The World Trade Organization has allowed the U.S. government to impose levies on EU goods valued as high as US$7.5 billion. The government will revisit its decision in 180 days, when it could again raise tariffs and include a wider array of products.
In an apparent concession to the fact the government’s argument is with Airbus, and not European farmers, producers, and manufacturers, the USTR is raising tariffs on certain large civil aircraft (meaning Airbus) exported from the EU to 15% from the 10% imposed in October, according to the news release. The change goes into effect on March 18, the statement said.
“That’s actually encouraging as they are starting to address the core issue,” says David
CEO of Benchmark Wine in Napa, Calif., and president of the National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR).
Parker said it helps the industry to have some certainty for the next 180 days, but he’s “disappointed that they did not fully consider the damage continuing wine tariffs are doing to the industry and small- and medium-sized family businesses.”
According to a study commissioned by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA), the U.S. beverage alcohol industry may lose nearly 36,000 jobs, and more than US$1.6 billion in wages this year, “costing the U.S. economy more than $5.3 billion.”
“These consequences will only compound the longer these tariffs remain in effect,” said
a WSWA spokesman.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS) agreed.
“We are gravely concerned that if these disputes are not resolved soon, these U.S. tariffs on EU spirits imports will cause a similar drag on the U.S. economy, jeopardizing American companies and jobs,” DISCUS said in a statement.
The trade group remains concerned that the EU will retaliate in the spring on U.S. exports of rum, vodka, and brandy, in its WTO case involving
The 25% tariffs that are being maintained are targeted to still wine with an alcohol content below 14% that’s produced in France, Germany, Spain, and the U.K. Italian wine, as well as all sparkling wine, is spared. The tariffs also impact single-malt Scotch whisky, whiskey from Northern Ireland, and liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.