Hagerty, Colleagues Urge Biden Admin to Protect American Jobs, Remove Retaliatory Tariffs on Whiskey and Spirits

December 11, 2023

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) joined Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Todd Young (R-IN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Rand Paul (R-KY), along with 12 other Senate Colleagues, in sending a letter to U.S Ambassador Katherine Tai urging the Biden Administration to act quickly to protect the millions of U.S. jobs that rely on American whiskey and spirits producers. Without urgent action, the European Union (EU) will implement a 50% tariff on American whiskey imports on January 1, 2024, and American wine and other distilled spirits imports could see sharp tariff increases by 2026.

Retaliatory tariffs by the EU have cost domestic sprits distillers and winemakers billions of dollars since 2018, and the U.S. needs a permanent solution to safeguard over 1.7 million production, distribution, and hospitality jobs that rely on the industry. The spirits industry supports over 19,000 jobs and over $1.6 billion in economic activity in the state of Nevada alone. The Senators’ bipartisan letter urges U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to negotiate a deal to permanently remove retaliatory tariffs on all American-made sprits and wines.

“We write today to request an expedited agreement with the European Union (EU) to secure the permanent removal of retaliatory tariffs on spirits and wines,” the Senators wrote. “We are deeply concerned that a lack of a permanent solution risks the re-imposition of tariffs.”

“Spirits have had a significant cultural impact in our country, and currently have a profound impact on the U.S. economy. In 2022 alone, U.S. distilled spirit exports reached $2.06 billion. But the impact of the retaliatory tariffs was devastating…Our belief is that the imposition of additional tariffs on this industry is detrimental. There are mutual benefits in finding a path forward, and our belief is that spirits and wines are a point where there can be consensus to limit the damage for all parties,” the Senators concluded.

A copy of the letter can be found here.