International

Senators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report

A bipartisan group of more than a dozen U.S. senators is asking the U.S. trade representative (USTR) to drop tariffs on European food, wine and spirits.

In a letter to the USTR’s office on Friday, 13 senators wrote that restaurants, stores, distributors and importers in the U.S. face “severe economic hardship due to the increased cost of goods” and that “demand for these goods has declined, leaving importers and distributors with months’ worth of product, much of it perishable, in storage and in transit with no clear end date for the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Signers of the letter include Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Reuters reported.

The U.S. imposed the tariffs on up to $7.5 billion of European goods last year in retaliation for European Union subsidies on large aircraft. They affected goods range from French wine to single-malt Scotch whisky, as well as German coffee and pork sausage produced in the EU, Reuters noted.

The U.S. Distilled Spirits Council has also called for an end to the tariffs, saying the alcohol industry “has suffered enough.”

“These tariffs are exacerbating the incredible burden hospitality businesses are experiencing with the widespread closures of bars and restaurants due to COVID-19.  The U.S. and EU need to seek measures to bolster hospitality jobs, not saddle businesses with unnecessary tariffs,” the organization said in a July 27 statement.

According to an analysis by the council, U.S. tariffs on wine, spirits and beer could cost between 13,700 and 95,900 U.S. jobs.

“We are calling on both sides to de-escalate the disputes and return to the 1994 zero-for-zero agreement on both sides of the Atlantic which has been instrumental to our success and job creation in the U.S., EU and UK,” the group said.

Tags Alcohol Cory Booker Cory Gardner Dianne Feinstein John Barrasso Pat Toomey Robert Menendez Susan Collins Tariffs

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