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Alcohol industry urges permanent removal of all US, EU and UK tariffs

Alcohol industry urges permanent removal of all US, EU and UK tariffs
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The alcohol industry on Tuesday formed the Toasts Not Tariffs Coalition to advocate for the permanent removal of all U.S., European Union and United Kingdom tariffs on its products. 

Forty-seven associations in the sector have joined the coalition so far, representing producers, importers and wholesalers, as well as the restaurant and retail industry. The tariffs are in place in connection to steel and aluminum and Boeing and Airbus disputes.

The U.S. and EU earlier this month agreed to suspend for four months the tariffs relating to a long-standing trade dispute over subsidizing aerospace competitors Boeing and Airbus. The U.S. and U.K. made a similar agreement days earlier. 

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The EU and U.K. still have a 25 percent tariff on American whiskeys such as bourbon, which were imposed in retaliation to former President TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE's steel and aluminum tariffs. On June 1, the EU’s tariff is expected to double to 50 percent. 

“This is a broad coalition representing a lot of different aspects of the hospitality sector that are invested in supporting the Biden administration through this,” Chris Swonger, CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council, told The Hill. 

John Bodnovich, executive director of American Beverage Licensees, called the situation a unifying issue for the industry. 

“We’ve all been working on this for the past couple of years and it's good to be united together on this effort,” he said.

American whiskey’s largest export market is the EU, and exports have dropped 37 percent from $702 million to $440 million since the tariffs were first implemented in June 2018.

The shutdowns and closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic have also negatively impacted the industry, which relies on revenues from restaurants, breweries, distilleries and other on-premise services.

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“From a retail perspective, COVID-19 closures and operating restrictions have really just ravaged the on-premise industry,” Bodnovich. “We’re already operating here in a very, very tough time.”

“A permanent removal of these tariffs will be a critical, critical element of getting our economy back to full throttle for the betterment of everybody,” Swonger said.

New U.S. Trade Representative Katherine TaiKatherine TaiOn The Money: Five takeaways on a surprisingly poor jobs report | GOP targets jobless aid after lackluster April gain EU urges Biden administration to increase vaccine exports Battle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers MORE has said she would push to negotiate resolutions to the trade disputes.

“The administration is very, very aware that these tariffs have had a big impact. We believe it is top of mind,” Swonger said. “We are very optimistic that the administration will do all it can to resolve the ongoing trade dispute over steel and aluminum.” 

Other members of the coalition include the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, National Retail Federation, National Restaurant Association and the Wine and Spirits Shippers Association, among others.