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Alcohol industry calls for immediate end of tariffs on wine and spirits

Alcohol industry calls for immediate end of tariffs on wine and spirits
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Business groups representing the beverage alcohol industries in the U.S., Europe and the United Kingdom are urging the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the European Commission for Trade to end the tariffs on wine, distilled spirits and beer. 

Eighteen associations signed onto a letter after reports that the World Trade Organization (WTO) authorized the European Union to impose $4 billion in tariffs on goods from the U.S. in response to a dispute over Boeing.

The WTO authorized tariffs on U.S. goods worth $4 billion in retaliation for subsidies that Boeing receives. The Trump administration imposed tariffs on European products in October in retaliation for European Union (EU) subsidies to Boeing competitor Airbus.

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The letter urged the U.S. and EU to come to a negotiated settlement that eliminates additional tariffs on distilled spirits and wine. 

“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 groups wrote.

The EU had previously indicated that it could impose tariffs on wine, rum, brandy and vodka from the U.S.

“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,” the groups wrote. “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.”

Chris Swonger, CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, signed the letter, as did Michelle Korsmo, CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America; Ulrich Adams, director general of spiritsEUROPE; and Ignacio Sánchez Recarte, secretary general of Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins, among other executives.

In July, more than 160 lawmakers from both parties called on the USTR to remove the 25 percent tariffs on wine, cordials and whiskey products from the EU in an effort to support the struggling hospitality industry during the coronavirus pandemic.