Joint Statement by International Beverage Alcohol Associations in Response to U.S. Tariffs Imposed Today on Certain EU Distilled Spirits & Wines

We are united in our opposition to the imposition of tariffs and clear in our view that there are no winners in a trade war.  Our 15 international beverage alcohol associations today sent a letter to the U.S. administration and the EU Commission calling for an immediate end to tariffs on distilled spirits and wines and welcoming their statements of their shared intent to reach negotiated solutions to the disputes.  Our industries are collateral damage in trade disputes that have nothing to do with the beverage alcohol sector. This new round of tariffs will further damage a transatlantic industry that has already been negatively impacted by the EU’s retaliatory tariff on American Whiskey.

American Whiskey exports to the EU have faced a 25% tariff since June 2018 and, beginning today, certain EU spirits and wines imported into the U.S. now face a 25% tariff.  Since the EU’s imposition of tariffs, American Whiskey exports to the EU have decreased by nearly 21%.  These tariffs are greatly harming the industry’s competitiveness, long-standing partnerships, workers and our farm suppliers.  The negative impacts will be compounded by these new tariffs on EU products entering the U.S.   Tariffs are taxes on U.S. consumers who create demand for these products in the U.S. marketplace.

Importantly, the U.S. and EU wines and spirits sectors are interconnected, with companies owning a range of European and American distinctive spirits and wines in their brand portfolios.   As a result, these new U.S. tariffs on EU spirits and wines could result in the loss of 8,000 good-paying jobs across the U.S. beverage alcohol sector, from importers, distributors, wholesalers, to the hospitality sector.

Prior to these recent trade disputes, U.S. and EU spirits exporters enjoyed more than two decades of tariff-free access to each other’s markets, and U.S. and EU wine exporters have faced very low tariffs.   This open access to each other’s markets has significantly benefitted EU and U.S. distillers, vintners, farmers, and the hospitality industry on both sides of the Atlantic, resulting in increased jobs, community investment, and consumer choice.

Additionally, many U.S. wine and spirits exporters may face the increasing likelihood that the EU may respond by imposing more tariffs on U.S. wines and other U.S. spirits products.

The next quarter is the busiest time of the year for spirits and wine producers on both sides of the Atlantic as consumers gear up for holiday gift-giving and entertaining.  In order to protect the jobs and communities we support, we urgently call on the U.S. and the EU to reach an agreement to de-escalate the current trade disputes by immediately and simultaneously removing the EU’s retaliatory tariff on U.S. whiskey and the U.S. tariffs on EU spirits and wines.


Links to the letters sent today to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and the European Commission

Background on EU Spirits and Wines Impacted by the U.S. Tariffs:

The United States is assessing a 25% tariff on imports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky; Single Malt Irish Whiskey from Northern Ireland; liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and United Kingdom; and certain wines from France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Background on U.S. Spirits Impacted by the EU Tariffs:

Since June 22, 2018, all American Whiskeys exported to the EU have faced a 25% import tariff.

The joint statement was issued by the following beverage alcohol trade associations:

  • American Beverage Licensees
  • American Craft Spirits Association
  • American Distilled Spirits Association
  • Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC)
  • Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS)
  • Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey
  • Drinks Ireland|Spirits
  • Federación Española de Bebidas Espirituosas
  • Kentucky Distillers’ Association
  • National Association of Beverage Importers
  • Scotch Whisky Association
  • spiritsEUROPE
  • The Wine and Spirit Trade Association
  • Wine and Spirits Shippers Association
  • Wines & Spirits Wholesalers of America