Trade groups urge EU and US to end tariff war

Eighteen trade associations have joined forces to call for an immediate elimination of the retaliatory tariffs that the US and EU have imposed upon spirits, wine and beer.

The groups wrote to the United States Trade Representative and the European Commission for Trade to express their shared opposition to the tariffs.

It was sent in response to reports that the World Trade Organization authorized the EU to impose $4 billion in tariffs on US imports in the Boeing dispute.

Trade groups on either side of the Atlantic fear it could pave the way for the EU to impose additional tariffs on American alcoholic beverages. The EU previously indicated that it may impose tariffs on U.S. wine, rum, brandy and vodka in this dispute.

“The escalation of tariffs on the distilled spirits and wine sectors, by either the U.S. or EU, will only increase harm to an industry already suffering,” said the group of US, EU, and UK spirits, wine and beer associations. “The spirits and wine industries and hospitality sector are facing incredible economic harm due to the mandatory closings of restaurants, bars and distillery and winery tasting rooms in response to the outbreak of Covid-19.

“These tariffs, which have been imposed in connection with unrelated trade disputes, have generated severe economic pain for our sectors and our wider supply chains.”

The 18 associations urged the EU and US “to come to a negotiated settlement without delay that simultaneously eliminates additional tariffs on distilled spirits and wine, which will generate growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic”.

American whiskey exports to the EU have decreased by 41% since the bloc imposed a 25% tariff on the whiskey in June 2018.

Since October 2019, the US has imposed a 25% tariff on imports of single malt Scotch whisky, single malts from Northern Ireland, liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK; and certain wines from France, Germany, Spain and UK.

US imports of Scotch have since decreased by almost 35% and all other categories are down since the tariffs were introduced.

The joint letter was signed by the following trade associations: Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, spiritsEUROPE, Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins, Scotch Whisky Association, Wine Institute, American Beverage Licensees, WineAmerica, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, National Retail Federation, American Craft Spirits Association, American Distilled Spirits Alliance, U.S. Wine Trade Alliance, National Council of Chain Restaurants, Kentucky Distillers’ Association, National Restaurant Association, National Association of Beverage Importers, National Association of Wine Retailers, and the Wine and Spirits Shippers Association.