WSWA Urges Deference to Strong and Safe State-Based Alcohol Regulation as USTR Pursues New Trade Deals
(WASHINGTON)—The U.S. wine and spirits industry and its state-based regulatory system, supported by the federal government, have delivered an unmatched record of safety and effective oversight under the 21st Amendment. This structure must not be weakened as the U.S. pursues global trade deals, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of American (WSWA) told the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in comments filed this week.
“In the 80 years since the end of Prohibition, the U.S. beverage alcohol regulatory system has delivered an unparalleled record of consumer safety and diversity of products—produced and delivered in a well regulated and responsible manner,” WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf said. “This structure provides a predictable stream of tax revenue to government while ensuring the highest standards for consumer protection.”
Wolf added, “The United States should tread cautiously when considering international pressure to deregulate the distribution of beverage alcohol. Nothing should be done to erode state authority over the distribution of beverage alcohol guaranteed by the 21st Amendment. The last thing we want to do is place the American consumer at risk for adulterated and counterfeit product—a problem that has proliferated in many other countries, as a result of their failure to adopt the type of accountable system of distribution that exists here in the United States.”
WSWA cited a recent Financial Times article which stated an estimated 75 percent of alcohol consumed in Africa is sold illicitly with similarly shocking numbers elsewhere: 69 percent in Southeast Asia, 25 percent in the European Union, and 10 percent in the United Kingdom. The U.S. record of safety is far superior, WSWA pointed out, largely because product is regulated by those closest to it, at the state level, with federal support.
Comments filed by WSWA deal with proposed global trade deals including those with Europe mentioned by President Obama during his recent State of the Union Address. USTR has previously recognized the important distinction between alcohol and other consumer goods under the existing General Agreement on Trade in Services by excepting distribution and retail of beverage alcohol because of constitutional state prerogatives. WSWA’s comments were filed in response to Docket USTR-2013-0001.
WSWA is a national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry. With 350 member companies across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, WSWA is the voice for wholesalers in Congress, the administration, the courts, with the news media and in communities across America.
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