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U.S. Targets E.U. Wines And Spirits With Expanded Tariff Threat

December 12, 2019

The U.S. continues to widen its list of European wines and spirits targeted for tariffs as part of the trade dispute initially triggered by illegal E.U. subsidies to Airbus. In the latest salvo, delivered yesterday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer issued an updated list of E.U. products that could be hit with tariffs moving forward.

The new product list builds on the existing 25% tariffs on single malt Scotch whiskies and French, Spanish, German, and U.K. wines that went into effect October 18. Separately, in recent days, the U.S. threatened additional tariffs on French sparkling wines in response to France’s 3% digital services tax on tech companies.

Under the new list issued yesterday, the U.S. says it’s considering imposing further tariffs on products from across the entire 28-member E.U. bloc. The new targets include grape brandies such as Cognac, cordials and liqueurs, and all whiskies (both blended and single malt). The proposed tariffs would also cover all sparkling wines, effervescent, fortified wines, and all grape wines in containers below two liters in size and above 10 liters in size, regardless of alcohol content.

While many producers and importers have been hoping that trade tensions will ratchet down and the current tariffs on E.U. wines and spirits will be short-lived, the tide appears headed in the other direction, at least for the moment. Wine Spectator has more on what the new tariff threat could mean for the industry.

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