Co-Chairs Thompson, Newhouse, 106 Wine Caucus Members Urge USTR Not to Target Wine in Trade Disputes

Jan 14, 2020
Press Release
Highlight potential negative impact on American wineries, local economy

Washington – Today Congressional Wine Caucus Co-Chair Mike Thompson (CA-05), Co-Chair Dan Newhouse (WA-04) and 106 bipartisan Members of the caucus wrote to United States Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer asking him to refrain from including wine in potential retaliatory tariffs in response to the European Union’s illegal Airbus subsidies. Signers highlighted the potential harmful effects on the American wine community, which has a year impact of $220 billion on our economy.

The bipartisan letter to Ambassador Lighthizer is below. The letter was signed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representatives Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Nita Lowey (NY-17), David Price (NC-04), Eleanor Homes Norton (DC-AL), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Peter T. King (NY-02), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Michael Doyle (PA-18), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Steve Chabot (OH-01), John Larson (CT-01), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Greg Walden (OR-02), William Lacy Clay, Jr. (MO-01), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Tom Cole (OK-04), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02), Linda Sanchez (CA-38), Emmanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Jim Costa (CA-16), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Ed Perlmutter (CA-07), Peter Welch (VT-AL), John Yarmuth (KY-03), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Tom McClintock (CA-04), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Bill Posey (FL-08), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), Judy Chu (CA-27), John Garamendi (CA-03), Tom Reed (NY-23), Steve Stivers (OH-15), Mark Amodei (NV-02), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Ami Bera (CA-07), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Tony Cardenas (CA-29), Paul Cook (CA-09), Lois Frankel (FL-29), George Holding (NC-02), Jared Huffman (CA-02), David Joyce (OH-14), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Scott Peters (CA-52), Tom Rice (SC-07), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Ann Wagner (MO-02), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Norma Torres (CA-35), Lee Zeldin (NY-01), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Lou Correa (CA-46), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Josh Gottheimer (NY-05), Clay Higgins (LA-03), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Thomas Suozzi (NY-03), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Ralph Norman (SC-05), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), TJ Cox (CA-21), Joe Cunningham (SC-01), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Lucy McBath (GA-06), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Max Rose (NY-11), Donna Shalala (FL-27), David Trone (MD-06), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), and Greg Murphy (NC-03).

January 14, 2020

Robert E. Lighthizer
United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC  20508

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

As members of the Congressional Wine Caucus, we write to express our strong concern about U.S. retaliatory tariffs on European wine.  These retaliatory tariffs cause economic harm to the thousands of U.S. wineries, exporters, importers, retailers, and restaurants who depend on a vibrant, healthy wine market for their livelihood.  Any expansion of these tariffs would further exacerbate the harm already caused.

As you know, our local wine communities are a driving force in the national economy with a total economic impact of $220 billion annually.  The European Union (EU) and the U.S. are the largest wine producing regions in the world and they serve as each other’s largest export markets. In fact, the combined wine trade between the U.S. and EU totaled $4.7 billion in 2018.

The U.S. is already targeting certain EU wines with a 25% tariff and any expansion of these tariffs will most certainly lead to U.S. wine exports being targeted by the EU, which has already included U.S. wines on a proposed retaliation list in the World Trade Organization aerospace dispute.  We understand that you must find appropriate means to address the WTO decision and France’s digital services tax issue, but we ask that you consider the effects it could have on American businesses.  Further escalation of these disputes will lead to even greater disruptions in the transatlantic wine trade and jeopardize thousands of small and medium sized businesses and the tens of thousands of U.S. jobs they support across the country.

Additionally, these new tariffs would come at a time when U.S. wineries are already facing significant retaliatory tariffs in China, one of the most important and fastest growing wine markets in the world. These tariffs are significantly harming U.S. exports to China and negotiations so far have not addressed China’s retaliation, resulting in challenging conditions for the entire domestic market.

The U.S. wine community, from grape to glass, is an essential part of our economy and we urge you not to target wine in trade disputes which have nothing at all to do with wine.  We hope you will exhaust all means possible to resolve these issues without resorting to retaliatory tariffs on wine.  Thank you for your consideration.

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Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties. He is a senior member of the House Committee on Ways and Means where he chairs the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures. Rep. Thompson is Chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. He is also Co-Chair of the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus and a member of the fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Coalition.