On Friday, a bipartisan group of 13 U.S. senators sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representatives Office (USTR) pleading to remove the tariffs currently impacting certain European foods, wines, and spirits.
Announced by the USTR on Oct. 2, 2019, the 25 percent tariffs were enacted in retaliation to E.U. subsidies paid to airplane manufacturer Airbus, also known as the “Large Civil Aircraft Dispute.” The tariffs hit a range of E.U. goods, including wines from France, Germany, Spain, and Britain, as well as single malt Scotch.
According to Reuters, which has seen a copy of the letter sent by the seven Republican and six Democratic senators, American retailers, restaurants, distributors, and importers are facing “severe economic hardship” due to the increased cost of goods and a decline in demand.
Last month, the U.S. Distilled Spirits Council also urged the USTR to end the tariffs. The council argued that businesses both within the U.S. and E.U. are suffering, noting that U.S. imports of Scotch dropped 33-percent between October 2019 (when the tariff was imposed) and May 2020. The drop amounts to a $378 million decline compared to the same period last year.
At the time of publishing, the USTR has not responded publicly to the letter. However, it began a period of considering additional tariffs on E.U. goods, including wine, beers, and spirits, at the end of June.
For more information on the potential ramifications of tariff hikes, see VinePair’s in-depth coverage here.