• Robert Tobiassen

Airbus Tariffs, Traffic, and Time – Avoidable Collision Courses for Importers

“Time may heal all wounds, but it does not erase the scars”


NABI Press Release (2021-6) – April 13, 2021

Airbus Tariffs, Traffic, and Time – Avoidable Collision Courses for Importers of Wine and Distilled Spirits in Four Months


“Time may heal all wounds, but it does not erase the scars”

Jane Hyatt Yolen, American Author


The National Association of Beverage Importers (NABI) is pleased with EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis proposal for a six-month suspension of the mutual tariffs, as reported by Der Spiegel on April 10, 2021[1], consistent with his earlier remarks on January 25, 2021, at the Foreign Affairs Council on Trade on suspending all mutual tariffs including the Airbus/Boeing tariffs.[2]


There is even movement in the steel conflict, at least on the EU side. "We have proposed to suspend all mutual tariffs for six months in order to reach a negotiated solution," says the responsible EU Commissioner Dombrowski. "That would create a necessary breathing space for industries and workers on both sides of the Atlantic."

“Time is a fundamental element in trade negotiations for both trade authorities and for the business sectors adversely impacted by trade sanctions” said NABI President Robert M. Tobiassen, adding “the length of the current suspension time needs more attention in the Airbus/Boeing trade disputes without undercutting negotiations, and recently this is spilling over into the steel and aluminum tariffs as suggested by the EU Trade Commissioner.”


In March, the U.S. and EU suspended the Airbus/Boeing tariffs for four months until July 11, 2021, and the U.S. and UK suspended the Airbus tariffs until July 4, 2021. No public explanation was released by any party on the determination of four months rather than six months, the latter being more precedented. “Four months keeps pressure on both the U.S. and EU and the U.S and UK to reach successful negotiated settlements. But a full six months is commercially essential for importers of wines and spirits” said Tobiassen.


“The unusually short four-month period fails to meet the reality of the commercial time needs of importers” according to Tobiassen. “Container shipping vessels and truck transportation after entry are experiencing unprecedented delays from port congestion or “traffic jams” on both the East and West Coasts meaning importers have no certainty on the date their goods will actually unload and clear entry through Customs” emphasized Tobiassen and he noted “importers of wines from France and Germany suffered the expanded Airbus tariffs effective on January 12, 2021 solely because the vessels were anchored for days and weeks in waters outside the ports of entry and could not unload and clear entry before the expanded tariffs became effective. One importer told me this port congestion delay on the West Coast cost his company $300,000. Others have told me they were similarly impacted financially.”


The final decision on trade sanctions in Section 301 investigations of the digital services taxes in Austria, Italy, Spain and the UK (and India and Turkey) is required by early June under U.S. trade law. The automatic doubling of the EU tariffs on American Whiskies and Bourbon is effective in the beginning of June, if there is no suspension. If the current four-month suspensions in the Airbus/Boeing tariffs remain in place, then June will require a review of another suspension.


“June is already a pivot month for many trade matters and a six-month suspension would move us beyond that busy month” said Tobiassen. “Moreover, a six-month suspension more closely aligns with the schedule of the next review of action for the Airbus tariffs, so it is a perfect fit,” he added.


For more information, please contact NABI at (202) 393-6224 or nabipresident@bevimporters.org


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