US senators urge to remove tariffs on EU beverages

11 August, 2020 12:00 AM printer

US senators urge to remove tariffs on EU beverages

WASHINGTON: A bipartisan group of 13 US senators have asked the US Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) to remove 25 per cent tariffs imposed in October 2019 on European Union food, wine and spirits, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

The tariffs, in retaliation for EU subsidies on large aircraft, hit French wine, Italian cheese and single-malt Scotch whisky, as well as cookies, salami, yogurt, olives from France, EU-produced pork sausage and German coffee, report agencies.

Seven Republican and six Democratic senators, including Robert Menendez, John Barrasso, Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, Dianne Feinstein, Pat Toomey, Kyrsten Sinema and Cory Booker said in a letter to USTR on Friday that American “restaurants, retailers, grocers, importers and distributors” are experiencing “severe economic hardship due to the increased cost of goods”.

The senators noted “demand for these goods has declined, leaving importers and distributors with months’ worth of product, much of it perishable, in storage and in transit with no clear end date for the COVID-19 pandemic”.

USTR did not immediately comment.

Last month, Europe’s Airbus said it would increase loan repayments to France and Spain in a “final” bid to reverse US tariffs and jog the United States into settling a 16-year-old dispute over billions of dollars of aircraft subsidies.

The United States last year won World Trade Organization (WTO) authorisation to impose tariffs on up to US$7.5 billion of EU goods.

The US Distilled Spirits Council last month urged ending EU and US beverage tariffs, saying drinks firms on both sides of the Atlantic “have suffered enough”.