Above: not only could a new round of wine tariffs raise the cost of wines at your favorite Italian restaurant, it would also impact countless Italian wine-focused small businesses and their employees across the country (photo taken at Misi in Brooklyn in January 2019).
According to a report published yesterday by Bloomberg, “the U.S. will soon issue the results of probes into Austria, Italy and India’s decisions to tax local revenue of Internet companies such as Facebook Inc., which could pave the way for retaliatory tariffs.”
The news comes on the heels of the EU’s recent announcement that it “plans to impose $4 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods, continuing a trade war fanned by the Trump administration” (Washington Post).
Both moves are part of ongoing World Trade Organization litigation between the U.S. and the EU over airline industry subsidies.
In October of 2019, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) imposed a tariff of 25 percent on French wines and Italian cheeses among other European products.
Those tariffs are still in place despite herculean efforts by the United States Wine Trade Alliance, an association formed last year in response to the continuing trade war.
The duties have gravely impacted not only French wine growers and Italian cheese makers but also thousands of small business in the U.S. including retailers, restaurants, distributors, and importers. Their tariff pain has only been exacerbated by the health crisis this year.
While Italian winemakers have been spared (so far) from the fallout of the trade wars, the new EU digital tax investigation and the newly imposed EU tariffs on U.S. goods could prompt the USTR to impose new duties on imported Italian wines.
“Biden has the ability to abolish these tariffs on day one of his administration,” said USTWA president Ben Aneff on a Zoom call with hundreds of American wine professionals yesterday afternoon.
Aneff and the USWTA are asking wine trade members to sign a petition asking the Biden administration to “End the Restaurant Tariffs!” Currently focused on the “on premise” sector, the campaign is part of a broader effort to raise awareness in the new administration about how these tariffs are affecting small businesses and their employees across the country.
I highly encourage all U.S. wine trade members to read and sign the petition. And please share it with your networks. The presidential transition, as Ben noted yesterday, represents a unique opportunity to have these duties lifted with one bold pen stroke.
Click here to read and sign the petition.
Please see also this USWTA Facebook post where Ben addresses strategies on raising awareness of the campaign among restaurant owners and employees.
Thank you for your support and solidarity.