Pressure Grows on Biden to End Retaliatory Tariffs on Whiskey and Spirits

You may have noticed that when President Biden goes on one of his "nonpolitical" campaign trips where he talks about "jobs, jobs, jobs," those rallies are never held in an American spirits or wine plant. Nor does he talk about jobs his policies have created in the wine and spirits industry. That may be because there have been few if any never spirits jobs that can be attributed to "Bidenomics."

But other people have noticed, one of them being Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) who sent a letter along with five other senators urging the Biden Administration to act quickly to protect the millions of U.S. jobs that rely on American whiskey and spirits producers. Without urgent action, the European Union (EU) will implement a 50% tariff on American whiskey imports on January 1, 2024, and American wine and other distilled spirits imports could see sharp tariff increases by 2026.

“We write today to request an expedited agreement with the European Union (EU) to secure the permanent removal of retaliatory tariffs on spirits and wines,” the senators wrote. “We are deeply concerned that a lack of a permanent solution risks the re-imposition of tariffs.”

“Spirits have had a significant cultural impact in our country, and currently have a profound impact on the U.S. economy. In 2022 alone, U.S. distilled spirit exports reached $2.06 billion. But the impact of the retaliatory tariffs was devastating…Our belief is that the imposition of additional tariffs on this industry is detrimental,” the senators concluded. “There are mutual benefits in finding a path forward, and our belief is that spirits and wines are a point where there can be consensus to limit the damage for all parties.”

“We thank these Senators for working to protect American jobs by calling on the Administration to quickly reach an agreement with the EU to avoid a 50 percent tariff on American Whiskey exports,” said Distilled Spirits Council President & CEO Chris Swonger. “American Whiskey has rebounded in the EU market over the past two years with these tariffs currently suspended. A return of these debilitating tariffs would be a severe blow to U.S. distillers and bring this positive momentum to a screeching halt.”

The letter was also signed by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and John Cornyn (R-Texas).