U.S., European legislators call for permanent end to wine tariffs

For the Basin Business Journal | July 16, 2021 1:00 AM


Members of the Congressional Wine Caucus, along with their counterparts in the European Parliament, have called upon the U.S. and the European Union to resolve their current trade dispute and permanently remove all tariffs on wine.

The statement was co-signed by Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Yakima, co-chair of the Congressional Wine Caucus, along with Rep. Mike Thompson, D-California, with 34 other U.S. members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as 50 members of the European Parliament, ahead of a U.S.-EU summit in mid-June.

“The EU and US wine sectors play a critical role in supporting a vibrant transatlantic trade relationship,” the statement reads. “This sector is an essential driving force for many rural economies and for a significant number of medium and small enterprises.”

“We ask our governments to further support the economic vitality and diversity of our wine sectors by working to remove all tariffs on wine to achieve a ‘zero for zero’ wine trade environment,” the statement continues.

In October 2019, the administration of President Donald J. Trump imposed a 25% tariff on French, Spanish, German and English wines, leading to a drop of nearly $500 million in the value of French wine exports to the United States in 2020, according to reports in the U.S. wine industry press.

U.S. officials suspended those tariffs for four months in early March, with the EU also agreeing to a similar suspension of tariffs on U.S. goods.

According to the Washington State Wine Commission, the state is the second-largest producer of wine in the U.S. with nearly 1,100 wineries and a total output of more than 178,000 tons of wine grapes in 2020 valued at roughly $8.4 billion.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.