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Courtney Visits Angelini Wine, Ltd. in Centerbrook to Discuss Impact of Trump Administration Tariffs on Local Businesses

January 23, 2020
Press Release

NORWICH, CT – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) visited Angelini Wine, Ltd., a local eastern Connecticut business that is facing financial hardship due to Trump Administration tariffs on wine from the European Union (EU). Courtney met with co-owner Julius Angelini, and together they toured the premises of the local wine importer and distributor, and discussed the impact that retaliatory tariffs by the Trump Administration on European wine are having on their business. President Trump has imposed 25% tariffs on certain European wines in retaliation for EU subsidies to Airbus. The President has threatened to increase these tariffs to 100%, dramatically increasing expenses for U.S. wine retailers selling European wines, and the U.S. consumers purchasing them.

“This is not simply a trade issue, it has now morphed into an existential issue,” said Julius Angelini, co-owner of Angelini Wine, Ltd. “I have been an importer and wholesaler for over 30 years and, like many, these proposed tariffs could put me out of business.  It has been proven that tariffs hit the American consumer, American businesses and the American economy far more than the country whose items tariffed.  It’s time for the adults in the room to reach a workable solution.”

“Local businesses who rely on the steady trade of wine between the U.S. and the EU shouldn’t have to bear the cost of this Administration’s trade disputes, which have nothing to do with wine in the first place,” said Congressman Courtney. “The EU and the U.S. are the largest wine-producing regions in the world, and we’re each other’s largest wine exporting markets. The Trump Administration’s trade war has already cost eastern Connecticut in terms of jobs and livelihoods, and an increase in these tariffs would be just another blow to local businesses like Angelini Wine, Ltd. I’m grateful that co-owner Julius Angelini could take some time to discuss the impacts of these proposed tariffs with me today, and I’ll keep working across the aisle on behalf of firms like his to ensure that these proposed tariffs don’t go into place.”

Rep. Courtney has recently expressed concern about the economic harm that the expansion of retaliatory tariffs by the Trump Administration on European wines could have on local businesses like Angelini Wine, Ltd., and on thousands of U.S. wineries, exporters, retailers, and restaurants across the country. Earlier this month, Courtney signed two separate letters to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer to share his concerns, and to urge USTR Lighthizer to ensure that tariffs on European wines are not expanded.

The first letter Rep. Courtney sent to USTR Lighthizer was led by Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05), and was also signed by Reps. John Larson (CT-01), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), and Jim Himes (CT-04). In their correspondence, the Representatives noted that Connecticut is home to thriving wine importing industries, and that an expansion of tariffs on European wines would have serious negative impacts on Connecticut businesses and consumers.

“Connecticut is home to robust wine making and importing industries,” the Connecticut members wrote. “[…] 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 US 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. wins on a proposed retaliation list in the World Trade Organization aerospace dispute.”

A signed copy of the letter sent to USTR Lighthizer by Rep. Courtney and the Connecticut House of Representatives delegation can be viewed online here.

In a second letter, Rep. Courtney joined the bipartisan Congressional Wine Caucus to again express concern to USTR Lighthizer about the harm being done to the U.S. wine community amid the Trump Administration’s ongoing trade disputes with the EU over France’s digital tax and EU subsidies to Airbus. In their letter, signed by over 100 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, the Congressional Wine Caucus highlighted the importance of the wine industry to the U.S. national economy, as well as the fact that any new tariffs placed on EU wines would be coming at the same time that U.S. wineries are facing retaliatory tariffs in China, one of the most important wine markets in the world.

“As you know, our local wine communities are a driving force in the national economy with a total impact of $220 billion annually,” the Congressional Wine Caucus wrote to USTR Lighthizer.

“[…] 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 significant challenging conditions for the entire domestic market.”

“[…] We hope you will exhaust all means possible to resolve these issues without resorting to retaliatory tariffs on wine.”

The full text of the Congressional Wine Caucus’s letter to USTR Lighthizer is included below, and a signed copy can be viewed online here.

###

January 10, 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 US 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.