Dear United States Trade Representative,
My name is Alder Yarrow, and I am a wine consumer living in Piedmont, California. I am writing to implore you to refrain from levying tariffs against European foodstuffs, wines, and alcohol in response to both the Digital Services Tax and the Large Civil Aircraft Dispute – Dockets No. USTR-2019-0009: Determination and Request for Comment Concerning Action Pursuant to Section 301: France’s Digital Services Tax and No. USTR2019-0003: Enforcement of US WTO Rights in Large Aircraft Dispute.
These tariffs will force me to pay higher prices for wine and will simply destroy the business of dozens, even hundreds of small, family-owned, American businesses who make their living (not to mention create jobs and pay a large amount of taxes) by importing and distributing alcohol and the other food products listed for consideration under these proposed tariffs.
While these proposed tariffs may penalize our European trading partners by reducing demand for their goods, the higher prices for these goods will be paid by American businesses, and by American consumers like me. The Europeans can find other places to sell their products. The Americans who have built businesses around selling these products will go bankrupt.
Faced with the doubling of the cost of the products they sell, many small businesses will simply be unable to purchase the goods they would normally sell in America. And for those goods they do sell, they will face the impossible choice of either dramatically raising their prices (to the point of all but erasing demand for their products), or taking a significant hit to their profit margins, which will be almost immediately unsustainable for all but the very largest companies. I know several small importers and retailers in both California and New York who believe that if the proposed tariffs are enforced, they will simply have to sell their inventory, lay off their employees, and close up shop for good.
In short, these proposed tariffs will eviscerate the wine industry, and severely cripple much of the alcohol and imported food industries. We’re talking about restaurants, wine bars, wine shops, liquor stores, importers, distributors, and more. In the strongest terms possible, I urge you to oppose these tariffs and do everything that you can to protect American jobs and tax revenues.
You’d have to be living media-free or under a rock to not have heard of the disastrous tariffs that have been proposed on all manner of wines, alcohol, and food from the EU as a way of penalizing France in particular and the EU in general for two trade actions they have taken recently that have nothing to do with wine.
These proposed tariffs, which will levy taxes of up to 100% of the value of imported products are an attempt to hit the Europeans “where it hurts” by symbolically targeting key exports. But the only thing you have to know about the tariffs is that the people that pay them are American. When we levy a tariff of 100% on a bottle of European wine, that means the importer has to pay twice as much to buy it from abroad, and then we as consumers have to pay twice as much to buy it. Of course the likelihood that we will pay $50 for a bottle of wine we’re used to buying for $25 is about the same likelihood that the small importers, retailers, and wine bars have of staying in business in that situation: zero.
Plenty of folks with more patience and time than I have compiled extensive explainer guides on what these tariffs are and how they work, and MOST IMPORTANTLY: HOW YOU SHOULD MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD IN OPPOSITION.
I recommend visiting Christy Frank’s blog for the most thorough description of the issues and helpful content and links to help you send your comments to the government.
Whether you’re a consumer concerned for the health of the wine, food, and hospitality industry, or a business owner who will be affected, you should take the five or ten minutes required to thoughtfully compose a personal message in opposition of these tariffs.
Hell, when Marvin Shanken and Eric Asimov agree on something, you know it’s important. Please do your part. The deadline to respond is January 13th.