US tariffs suspended  

There will now be four months of penalty-free trade

International wine trade is easier again / Credit: Petr Jilek/Fotolia
International wine trade is easier again / Credit: Petr Jilek/Fotolia

On the evening of 5 March, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and US President Joe Biden agreed to suspend all tariffs imposed in connection with the Airbus-Boeing disputes for an initial period of four months.

The stakeholders concerned see the agreement as a positive signal for the international wine trade. 

The Assembly of European Wine Regions (AREV) welcomes the temporary suspension of duties for the wine sector and urges further steps to resolve the conflict. AREV had previously called for a 9-month suspension of duties.

US retailers relieved

David A. Parker, the CEO of Benchmark Wine Group and President of The National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR) in the USA, comments, "We are delighted with the news that tariffs on most European wines have been paused.  This will provide immediate relief to the wine and restaurant trades who have been struggling through the double challenge of crushing cost burdens and the pandemic. We look to the US Trade Representative for a permanent repeal of these tariffs as well as of the remaining wine tariffs."

Mr. Parker praised the cooperation with the US Wine Trade Alliance (USWTA). "Through the joint effort of the two organizations [NAWR and USWTA], we were able to prevent additional tariffs from being imposed, including a threatened 100% tariff on champagne. Most re-cently we were able to get a strong message to the new administration about the destructiveness of these tariffs to so many small businesses.  That clearly has resulted in this very encouraging action."

Hope in Germany

From Germany, Gerhard Brauer, Chairman of the Association of German Wine Exporters (VDW), comments on the development. He hopes that the EU Commission and the US authorities will soon find a compromise to finally end the dispute and the imposition of these punitive tariffs. 

The President of the German Winegrowers' Association (DWV), Klaus Schneider, is pleased: "Good news for our industry! Our winegrowers can finally breathe a sigh of relief. The USA is by far the largest export market not only for EU wines, but also for our wines from German wine-growing regions, and the tariffs are having a devastating effect on us."

France: "excellent news"

It was "the first step in the process of commercial de-escalation," said French Foreign Trade Minister Franck Riester. "We will now work with the Commission and our European partners to reach an agreement within the next four months on new rules for public support to the aviation sector that is in line with our interests and not naïve."

The regional association Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux speaks of "excellent news." In an interview with the French channel France Bleu, the president of the association, Bernard Farges, said, "This is excellent news because the impact of this tax amounts to 100 million euros in lost sales in 2020 for Bordeaux wines alone. It was urgent that we get out of it. These taxes will be suspended for at least four months and then, if the negotiations are successful, they will be abolished completely.”

Washington had punitive tariffs of 25 percent on still wines from some EU countries, including Germany, in 2019. These additional tariffs had led to a slump in exports, especially of German white wines, of about 20 percent last year. EU-wide, exports fell by 54 percent, DWV reports. Jk/aw

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