Update: On March 5, the Biden administration announced a four month suspension on these tariffs, clearing the way for cheaper wine, plus other beverages like Irish and Scotch whiskies.
Almost a year ago in October 2019, the Trump administration slapped 25 percent tariffs on most French, German, Spanish, and U.K. wines. Why? Essentially it’s retaliation for subsidized loans these countries gave to the European airplane manufacturer Airbus, who competes with the American airplane manufacturer Boeing (for their part, the EU contends the U.S. and the state of Washington where Boeing is headquartered have unfairly assisted Boeing).
While the tariffs force Americans to pay more for wines from these countries, it also hurts U.S. businesses. According to a study from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA), the tariffs could ultimately result in the U.S. beverage industry losing nearly 93,000 jobs and more than $3.8 billion in wages in 2020.
As WSWA President & CEO Michelle Korsmo put it in August, “Our industry is being used as a bargaining chip in a poor attempt to renegotiate a 15-year-old trade dispute that has nothing to do with American family-owned businesses struggling to keep the lights on during a global pandemic and economic recession. [U.S. Trade Representative] Mr. Lighthizer, the 93,000 men and women who may lose their jobs because of your decision are not nameless or faceless to us – they are hardworking truck drivers, warehouse and logistics staff, bookkeepers, sales professionals, maintenance and custodial workers, and so many more.”
While the Trump administration has continued to renew the tariffs every 180 days since they were first imposed last October, Biden’s top foreign policy adviser Antony Blinken recently confirmed that Biden would end the “artificial trade war that the Trump administration started.” In other words, if Joe Biden is inaugurated in January, we may all be toasting to cheaper European wine.