WSWA encourages our members to write to their U.S. Representatives and Senators asking for their help opposing harmful retaliatory tariffs against alcohol from Europe.
You can find an email address for your member of Congress on their website.
Subject: Oppose Harmful Tariffs on Alcohol
Dear [Representative] – OR – [Senator] [YOUR REPRESENTATIVE OR SENATOR’S NAME],
My name is [NAME], I serve as [TITILE] at [COMPANY NAME]. I am writing to express my strong opposition to U.S. retaliatory tariffs on European wine and spirits. These tariffs cause significant economic harm to the American beverage alcohol industry made up of thousands of producers, distributors, importers, retailers and restaurants.
The wine and spirits industry has directly created an estimated 1.3 million American jobs, with wholesalers alone accounting for 87,722 jobs paying nearly $7.5 billion in wages annually in every state and congressional district across the country. America’s wine and spirits wholesalers are the vital link bringing an ever-expanding variety of brands from around the world that has led to consumer choice and positive market place trends that feed other industries such as tourism, dining, and hospitality. As local, family-owned businesses, America’s privately owned wholesalers and distributors are essential members of the U.S. economy.
As consumer demands have evolved and changed, wine and spirits wholesalers have diversified portfolios with products from around the globe to meet every taste, budget, and occasion—driving growth and creating myriad job opportunities for U.S. workers.
In October, the U.S. implemented a 25 percent tariff on certain EU wine and spirits in response to the Airbus/Boeing WTO dispute and is currently considering expanding the list of products on its list and increasing the tariff up to 100 percent. Now, the U.S. is considering a tariff up to 100 percent on French sparkling wines and champagne. The cost of these tariffs does not fall on Europeans. The cost falls on American businesses, workers, and consumers in the form of lost jobs and sky-high retail prices for imported wine and spirits.
The United States wine and spirits industry already faces retaliatory tariffs in critical export markets including the EU, as a result of the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs and the Airbus/Boeing WTO tariffs. This potential escalation by the U.S. is particularly troubling since American spirits and wines are already being negatively impacted by retaliatory tariffs imposed by the EU and several countries resulting from other trade disputes unrelated to the U.S. alcohol industry. For example, the EU’s 25 percent retaliatory tariff on American Whiskey has resulted in a 29 percent decrease in exports in the last year. The EU is the largest export market for American Whiskey totaling $704 million in 2018. A tariff on Champagne and sparkling wine from France will significantly increase pressure on the EU to impose additional tariffs on United States distilled spirits and wines. We cannot emphasize this enough – there will be negative, long-lasting consequences felt across our country.
The imposition of additional U.S. duties on sparkling wines from France alone would cause significant economic harm to the alcohol industry and may result in more than 17,000 U.S. jobs lost. This includes importers, producers, distributors/wholesalers, retailers, as well as the related jobs throughout the distribution chain, such as shippers, truckers, warehouse workers, bookkeepers and accountants, sales representatives, customs brokers, managers, hospitality, and others. Many are solid middle-class family jobs.
In sum, imposing tariffs on alcohol products from Europe harms the entire industry and U.S. economy, threatens to lead to additional tariffs on U.S. exports, and results in job losses across the U.S.
In order to avoid this devastating economic impact and enable wine and spirits wholesalers to continue to meet American consumers’ diverse and evolving demand, I ask you to please urge USTR to remove alcohol products from the lists of proposed products that may be subject to tariffs in ongoing trade disputes. While we understand this is part of a larger negotiation, it is unnecessary to involve alcohol and should be stopped immediately.