French Wine, Italian Cheese, and Scotch Whiskey Will Soon Cost More to Import to the U.S.
Import duties of 25 percent will be added to over 100 European products later this month.
The Trump administration's use of tariffs has been—objective speaking—an erratic mix of threats and action. So Americans probably shouldn't be surprised that only about a month after the president threatened to place tariffs on French wine—shortly after which France said they believed the issue had been resolved—the administration has announced that, yes, tariffs on French wine—and a laundry list of other delicious products—are definitely coming on October 18, 2019.
Over 100 different categories of products will be affected in all, but for food and drink enthusiasts, here are some of items you'll probably be most concerned about: most wines from France, Germany, Spain or the United Kingdom; single-malt Irish and Scotch whiskies; liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom; Spanish olive oil and olives; and a laundry list of meats and cheeses from across Europe including everything from Cheddar to Parmesan Reggiano. Plenty of other less heralded foods made the list as well like cherry juice and German coffee. (You can find the entire list on the Office of the United States Trade Representative's website.)
All of these products will be subject to additional import duties of 25 percent on top of any tariffs that already exist—assuming we make it to the 18th without any additional waffling. On the bright side(?) for lovers of imported wine and cheeses, that percentage is lower than the whopping 100 percent tariff that Trump had floated in the past.
But while consumers are likely to be hit in their pocketbook, the National Association of Beverage Importers speculated that these new wine and booze import duties could potentially put some of its members out of work. "These tariffs will devastate, perhaps destroy, many small and medium sized family businesses importing these products into the United States," Robert Tobiassen, the organization's president, said according to Reuters.
But again, this depends on whether the tariffs stick. The United States Trade Representative (USTR) wrote that they would "continually re-evaluate these tariffs based on our discussions with the EU," with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stating, "We expect to enter into negotiations with the European Union aimed at resolving this issue in a way that will benefit American workers." These additional tariffs are being levied in direct response to a ruling by the World Trade Organization that found European Union countries had broken WTO rules with subsidies provided to the European aircraft manufacture Airbus.
Of course, you may wonder what airplanes have to do with your French wine. Well, as is often the case in these kinds of disputes, the Trump administration appears to be targeting high-profile, headline-worthy products to help get its point across. So for instance, while French, German, Spanish, and British wines will all see added import duties (the USTR says they were "the four countries responsible for the illegal subsidies"), wine from other EU members got away unscathed.