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Wine groups laud EU no-tariff resolution

Wine Institute Export conference in Napa, Calif.
Wine Institute president and chief executive officer Robert Koch makes opening remarks at an export conference at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, Calif., on Feb. 18, 2020.
'Wine is a truly unique product and tariff free trade benefits our family wineries,' the groups say.

Advocacy groups for the wine industry are applauding a cooperative framework announced by U.S. and European Union leaders that will suspend tariffs related to a dispute over large civil aircraft.

The San Francisco-based Wine Institute and its European counterpart, Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV), expressed gratitude for the framework's call for the removal of all tariffs on wine traded between the two markets.

The framework, which was endorsed by 85 members of the U.S. Congress and European Parliament, acknowledges the harmful impact of retaliatory tariffs and calls on the leadership of the US and EU to work towards a ‘zero for zero’ tariff-free wine trade environment, the Wine Institute stated.

Related: EU resolution prevents tariffs on US ag exports

“Wine is a truly unique product and tariff free trade benefits our family wineries, farmers, retailers and hospitality businesses that make up our sector as well as consumers on both sides of the Atlantic,” Wine Institute President and CEO Bobby Koch said. “We applaud the Congressional Wine Caucus and their European counterparts for leading this effort to achieve zero for zero. This, more than anything, will help enhance the positive impact of our trade relationship.”

The two wine organizations have sought to keep the beverage out of the escalating tariff battles between the U.S. and EU after the World Trade Organization found that EU subsidies for Airbus airplanes had adversely affected U.S. airplane manufacturers and that the United States was entitled to retaliate.

Threat averted

Last year, then-U.S. Trade Representative Robert LIghthizer threatened to impose 100 percent tariffs on wine from the European Union. The threat caused a veritable panic within the American wine industry, which has been pushing back against assumptions that it would benefit from having European wines effectively priced out of the market. He later backed away from the threat.

Three months ago, the United States and the EU agreed to suspend all retaliatory tariffs for five years, and imports resumed almost immediately.

Related: Wine groups renew call for EU trade solution

“We are strongest when we work with our friends and allies, and the partnership with European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis is a demonstration of that principle in action," U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai said on June 18.

A free wine trade "is essential to preserve the longstanding efforts and investments of our wine companies and the sustainability of our vineyards,"  CEEV President Jean Marie Barillère said in a statement. "“European Parliament Wine Intergroup and Congressional Wine Caucus are well aware of the unique benefits of the wine trade and the importance of eliminating tariffs of any kind."

A copy of the Common Statement on the US-EU Wine Trade and a list of signatories can be found here.

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