Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Mike Thompson (both D-Calif.) and 17 of their congressional colleagues today called on the Trump administration to ensure any new trade agreements with China or Japan remove tariffs on U.S. wine.
Tariffs on U.S. wine sold in China rose to 54 percent this month, up from 14 percent in March 2018. In Japan, the tariff on U.S. wine is 15 percent. In both countries, foreign competitors face either no or significantly lower tariffs, making it harder for U.S wineries to compete.
“As you conduct trade negotiations with China and Japan, we expect that you will consult closely with Congress on your objectives, requests, and progress,” the members wrote. “We urge you to ensure that any new agreements result in the removal of all tariffs, retaliatory or otherwise, on U.S. wine. The administration must do all it can to support the international competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.”
In addition to Senator Feinstein, the Senate letter was signed by Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).
In addition to Representative Thompson, the House letter was signed by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.).
Full text of the letter follows:
June 11, 2019
The Honorable Robert Lighthizer
U.S. Trade Representative
600 17th St. NW
Washington D.C. 20508
Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:
As you conduct trade negotiations with China and Japan, we expect that you will consult closely with Congress on your objectives, requests, and progress. We urge you to ensure that any new agreements result in the removal of all tariffs, retaliatory or otherwise, on U.S. wine. The Administration must do all it can to support the international competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.
After years of strong growth, U.S. wine exports to China fell dramatically in 2018 as China implemented retaliatory tariffs. On June 1, tariffs on U.S. wine sold in China rose to 54 percent, up from just 14 percent in March 2018. Recent Chinese free trade agreements with Chile, Australia, and New Zealand have made competition even more difficult for U.S. winemakers. Despite more than a decade of concerted marketing efforts in China, including substantial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. wine will not be able to maintain a long-term Chinese presence in the face of such a wide disparity in trade conditions.
In Japan, U.S. wine producers face a 15 percent tariff while tariffs are being eliminated on wine produced by foreign competitors. For example, the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement that went into effect in February grants EU wine duty-free access to the market. Similarly, a Chile-Japan agreement will begin phasing out duties on Chilean wine this year, and an Australia-Japan agreement will eliminate duties on Australian wine by April 2021.
As your negotiations with China and Japan progress, we urge you to ensure that any new agreements include the removal of all tariffs on U.S. wine. The Administration must do all it can to support the international competitiveness of U.S. industries.
Thank you for your attention to these important matters. We look forward to your response.