17 associations demand end to wine and spirits tariffs
17 associations representing both the US and European wine and spirit trades have submitted comments opposing proposals for further US tariffs on wine, beer and spirits.
The industry bodies have submitted comments to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) after news of another tariff review last month.
In addition to existing tariffs on still wine, Scotch whisky and liqueurs, the US said it was considering further levies of up to 100% on beer, gin and vodka made in France, Germany, Spain, and the UK.
The dispute relates to EU subsides given to aviation company Airbus over US-based rival Boeing.
In their comments, the groups cited the latest data which revealed that US imports of Scotch whisky were down by almost 33% between October 2019 and May 2020, while imports of wine fell by 44% and liqueurs and cordials by 23% during the same period.
Analysis conducted by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), one of the groups to submit comments, warned that US tariffs on UK and EU wine, distilled spirits and beer could lead to as many as 95,900 job losses, depending on the extent of the tariffs.
In a joint statement, the group said: “Our 17 US, EU and UK associations are united in strong opposition to tariffs on beverage alcohol products. We are speaking with one voice in calling for the US administration and the European Commission to remove the current tariffs on spirits and wine from the EU and UK, and American whiskeys, and to forgo imposing any additional tariffs on beverage alcohol products. We hope Friday’s announcement by Airbus and the legislation passed in Washington State in March regarding civil aviation subsidies are significant steps toward the elimination of tariffs.
“Beverage alcohol sectors on both sides of the Atlantic have suffered enough. These tariffs are exacerbating the incredible burden hospitality businesses are experiencing with the widespread closures of bars and restaurants due to Covid-19. The US and EU need to seek measures to bolster hospitality jobs, not saddle businesses with unnecessary tariffs,” they added.
In October 2019, the US has imposed tariffs on US$7.5 billion worth of EU goods – including wine, spirits and liqueurs – as result of this dispute. The country first imposed 25% tariffs on drinks including Scotch whisky and wine (not over 14% ABV) made in France, Germany, Spain and the UK. The EU has stated that it may impose retaliatory tariffs on US rum, vodka, brandy and wine.
In a separate dispute in June 2018, the EU imposed a 25% tariff on all US whiskey imports. It is scheduled to increase these tariffs to 50% in spring 2021.
In addition to DISCUS, the 16 other associations are: SpiritsEurope, the Scotch Whisky Association, American Beverage Licensees, the National Retail Federation, the American Craft Spirits Association, the American Distilled Spirits Alliance, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, Kentucky Distillers’ Association, the National Association of Beverage Importers, the National Restaurant Association, the US Wine & Trade Alliance, WineAmerica, the Wine Institute, the Wine and Spirits Shippers Association, Wines & Spirits Wholesalers of America, and the National Association of Wine Retailers.