Updated: Jun 17, 2020
(NABI Press Release No. 2019-2) | National Association of Beverage Importers, Inc. | Washington, DC
“Delivering a WORLD of Taste to AMERICA” Continues to Be the Right Thing to Do to Enhance Consumer Choices
Consumer driven choice has been the linchpin of alcohol competition law by Federal and State Governments since the Repeal of Prohibition. Brands of alcohol beverages on the shelves of “brick and mortar” retail premises, pubs on corners or in malls, restaurant wine lists, and on-line product choice delivered through e-commerce enables consumers to demand and receive what they want rather than receive what the industry believes they should want. We have a consumer “pull” system and not an industry member “push” system for brand available to consumers. This is why the recent statements CEO Rick Tigner of the Jackson Family Wines before a meeting of local business and community leaders in Santa Rosa calling for trade barrier protections for domestic wines is surprising and more so troubling.  Ultimately and appropriately, consumer preference dictates the brands offered in the United States marketplace.
NABI President Robert M. Tobiassen said “Without a doubt, consumer choice is unbelievably enhanced by imported distilled spirits, wine, and beer. Consumers experience the world from the comfort of their homes and favorite drinking establishments. From the design of labels and bottles to consumer tastings/ samplings at retail establishments, and consumer advertising specialties for take away by the consumer at retail establishments, the brands and varieties of imported distilled spirits, wine, beer educate us about the world. Pure authenticity telling consumers the story of their drinks.”
More than 12,000 importer basic permit holders from TTB source almost a hundred thousand of brand names for American consumers and their enjoyment. Trade enhances consumer choice in the United States which is the largest consumer driven marketplace in the world.
Rather than discourage consumers from enjoying imported distilled spirits, wine, and beer, the domestic wineries should up their efforts on exports and enhance its promotional activities to attract consumers. Creating an artificial and anti-consumer choice domestic demand by restraining imported products is not the answer. No one wins from the current saber rattling over tariffs by both the United States and European Union. Global trade benefits all—consumers. growers of grapes, hops and grains, producers, exporters, importers, distributors, and retailers. It enhances peace and prosperity as was envisioned in the Post-World War II international model of a global trading order. 
Mr. Tigner argues that other countries impose tariffs or duties hurting American wines entering those markets so the United States is justified in imposing the same on imported wines. Why should American consumers pay more for other countries’ bad decisions? In the United States, we fight these foreign market trade barriers by working to remove them and not by adopting them.
Consumers demand for the availability of imported distilled spirits, wine, and beer is indisputable. For fiscal year 2018, TTB approved 185,072 certificate of label approvals (COLAs) of which 86,958 represented domestic products and 98,114 represented imported products. Consumer “pull” in the marketplace caused this. Clearly consumers are looking for the diversity and variety of imported products to enjoy. No tariff or non-tariff trade barrier should be erected by the domestic industry to tell consumers that they cannot have what they want at the most competitive pricing.
A rising tide raises all ships—both imports and domestics. Consumers sail better on this tide of brand choice, variety, and opportunity to experience the enormous diversity of distilled spirits, wine, and beer from both fine American producers and world producers. Consumers deserve nothing less.
NABI is the leading trade association for importers of distilled spirits, wine, beer, and low and non-alcoholic beverages in the United States. Established in 1935, in the wake of the Repeal of Prohibition, NABI has aided its members for eight decades in importing the widest range of products for American consumers to enjoy in a responsible manner. Recently, NABI has been the strong advocate for the import provisions of the Craft Beverage Modernization Act (CBMA) and worked closely with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on its implementation. Ease of administration and protection of the tax revenue are the guideposts of NABI’s efforts on CBMA. Importer basic permit holders are providing solid, well-paying jobs in every State and jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. “Delivering a WORLD of taste to AMERICA” is the NABI motto and goal.
For further information, please contact:
Robert M. Tobiassen, NABI President, or Bernadeen Emamali, NABI Vice-President and Corporate Secretary at: (202) 393-6224
 John H. Jackson, The World Trade Organization, Constitution and Jurisprudence (Chatham House Papers 1998).