Letter to Robert Lighthizer, Ambassador for U.S. Trade Representative - Co-Chairs Thompson, Newhouse, 106 Wine Caucus Members Urge USTR Not to Target Wine in Trade Disputes


By: Greg Walden, Suzanne Bonamici, Tom Cole, Steve Stivers, Dave Joyce, Marcy Kaptur, Steve Chabot, Tom Reed II, Nita Lowey, Adriano Espaillat, Max Rose, Jerry Nadler, Nydia Velázquez, Gregory Meeks, Thomas Suozzi, Pete King, Lee Zeldin, Mark Amodei, Don Payne, Jr., Bill Pascrell, Jr., Joshua Gottheimer, Andy Kim, Chris Pappas, David Price, Greg Murphy, George Holding, Emanuel Cleaver II, Ann Wagner, Lacy Clay, Jr., Chellie Pingree, David Trone, Dutch Ruppersberger, Jim McGovern, Clay Higgins, Jan Schakowsky, Lucy McBath, Donna Shalala, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Sr., Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Jr., Bill Posey, Stephanie Murphy, Eleanor Norton, Rosa DeLauro, Joe Courtney, John Larson, Ed Perlmutter, Doug Lamborn, Dianne Feinstein, Pramila Jayapal, Cathy Rodgers, Dan Newhouse, Rick Larsen, Suzan DelBene, Jennifer Wexton, Lloyd Doggett II, Sheila Jackson Lee, Veronica Escobar, Steve Cohen, Tom Rice, Ralph Norman, Jr., Joe Cunningham, Mike Doyle, Jr., Mary Scanlon, Dwight Evans, Kurt Schrader, Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Scott Peters, Juan Vargas, Alan Lowenthal, Lou Correa, Ken Calvert, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Linda Sánchez, Norma Torres, Jimmy Gomez, Ted Lieu, Pete Aguilar, Tony Cárdenas, Adam Schiff, Judy Chu, Julia Brownley, Salud Carbajal, T.J. Cox, Jimmy Panetta, Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo, Jim Costa, Eric Swalwell, Jackie Speier, Barbara Lee, Mark DeSaulnier, Jerry McNerney, Paul Cook, Ami Bera, Doris Matsui, Tom McClintock, John Garamendi, Jared Huffman, Doug LaMalfa, Raul Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick, Mike Thompson
Date: Jan. 14, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

As members of the Congressional Wine Caucus, we write to express our strong concern about U.S. retaliatory tariffs on European wine. These retaliatory tariffs cause economic harm to the thousands of U.S. wineries, exporters, importers, retailers, and restaurants who depend on a vibrant, healthy wine market for their livelihood. Any expansion of these tariffs would further exacerbate the harm already caused.

As you know, our local wine communities are a driving force in the national economy with a total economic impact of $220 billion annually. The European Union (EU) and the U.S. are the largest wine producing regions in the world and they serve as each other's largest export markets. In fact, the combined wine trade between the U.S. and EU totaled $4.7 billion in 2018.

The U.S. is already targeting certain EU wines with a 25% tariff and any expansion of these tariffs will most certainly lead to U.S. wine exports being targeted by the EU, which has already included U.S. wines on a proposed retaliation list in the World Trade Organization aerospace dispute. We understand that you must find appropriate means to address the WTO decision and France's digital services tax issue, but we ask that you consider the effects it could have on American businesses. Further escalation of these disputes will lead to even greater disruptions in the transatlantic wine trade and jeopardize thousands of small and medium sized businesses and the tens of thousands of U.S. jobs they support across the country.

Additionally, these new tariffs would come at a time when U.S. wineries are already facing significant retaliatory tariffs in China, one of the most important and fastest growing wine markets in the world. These tariffs are significantly harming U.S. exports to China and negotiations so far have not addressed China's retaliation, resulting in challenging conditions for the entire domestic market.

The U.S. wine community, from grape to glass, is an essential part of our economy and we urge you not to target wine in trade disputes which have nothing at all to do with wine. We hope you will exhaust all means possible to resolve these issues without resorting to retaliatory tariffs on wine. Thank you for your consideration.