WSWA Continues to Fight Against Tariffs on European Alcohol

Jan 16, 2020
WSWA Opposes Retaliatory Tariffs in Ongoing Trade Disputes with European Union

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) is actively opposing existing and newly proposed U.S. tariffs on European alcohol products, along with our industry partners representing importers, producers, exporters, distributors, and retailers.


In October 2019, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) implemented a 25 percent tariff on a number of European-origin alcohol products in connection with the ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) Airbus/Boeing dispute. WSWA engaged with our industry coalition partners when USTR first proposed these tariffs in May 2019 and joined in submitting written comments to USTR in strong opposition in May 2019 and  August 2019.


Now, in January 2020, USTR is considering increasing that tariff up to 100 percent, while expanding the list of beverage alcohol products it impacts. The newly proposed tariffs on Champagne and sparkling wine from France is in direct retaliation to the recent passage of the French Digital Services Tax (DST). WSWA joined our coalition partners once again in submitting a written comment to USTR in strong opposition to these tariffs.


WSWA also successfully secured an opportunity for immediate past chairman Barkley Stuart of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, to testify at a public hearing held by USTR, where he urged the Administration not to adopt these tariffs and warned of the numerous unintended consequences these duties will have on U.S. businesses, consumers, and jobs. WSWA and our industry coalition partners also submitted a letter of opposition to USTR further detailing the damage these tariffs would have on wholesalers and the industry at large.


The WSWA Federal Affairs team took our concerns directly to Capitol Hill and to the Administration, ensuring regulators understand the devastating economic cost these actions will have on American, family-owned wholesalers and the entire beverage alcohol industry. WSWA has spearheaded meetings with the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Senate Finance Committee, House Ways and Means Committee, and dozens of U.S. Representatives and Senators to request that they contact USTR and urge them to oppose tariffs on the alcohol industry.  


In addition, the Federal Affairs team worked in concert with the Congressional Wine Caucus, the New York State Congressional delegation, and the House Small Business Committee to draft and gain cosigners for letters from Congress to USTR requesting they not implement these harmful tariffs.


The WSWA Communications Team is actively generating critical public awareness on the negative economic impact of tariffs on alcohol. The team secured appearances on CNBC and other local programs and gained extensive media attention for WSWA sounding the alarm on the damage these tariffs would impose on wholesalers and the industry. Here are a number of examples:


CNBC: Consumers could feel pain with Prosecco, Champagne if French tariffs go into effect

Reuters: U.S. wine industry fears ‘Armageddon of costs’ from tariffs on French imports

CNBC: French tariffs would harm US workers more than France, says expert

Forbes: U.S. Wine Producers, Distributors And Retailers Bristle At Tariffs On Imports

CNN: Trump's tariffs on European wine have American businesses begging for relief

Politico: Tech giants push for tariffs as fight over French tax heats up

McClatchy: Some bottles of wine could double in price under new Trump tariffs, wine industry says

The Astorian: Winemakers fear tariffs could crush industry


Join the fight by writing to your local Congressmen. Find a sample letter and how to find your local congressional offices here.