A New Year, A New Approach – Both U.S. and EU Must De-escalate by 180-day Cooling Off Period
NABI Press Release - January 3, 2021
NABI Opposes Ill-Timed Airbus Tariffs Revision by the United States Trade Representative
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced major revisions to the current Airbus
WTO trade dispute additional duties, also known as “retaliatory tariffs.” The expanded list of
products covering wines and spirits only exacerbates an untenable business environment for
importers, distributors, retailers, and consumers facing the pandemic economic downturn. U.S.
companies and consumers, ultimately, pay these tariffs much like they pay taxes; the EU does
“This is more than frustrating; it is reckless at this late date in the sunset of Ambassador
Lighthizer’s tenure” as U.S. Trade Representative, said Robert M. Tobaissen, president,
National Association of Beverage Importers. “Having failed to negotiate a settlement of this
16-year dispute, he throws gasoline on the fire as he prepares to ‘get out of Dodge’ only to
increase the trade policy challenges by the Biden/Harris Administration. He should be consulting
with the Transition Team and not building new barriers with our allies in the EU,” Tobiassen
said and added “A new year has started, so should a new approach.” NABI has consistently
proposed a 180-day suspension (as authorized by U.S. trade law) of the Airbus tariffs provided
the EU suspends the Boeing tariffs for the same time period, to allow de-escalation and also
provide time for the incoming Biden/Harris Administration to review and evaluate the tariffs as it
develops its trade policy with our longstanding allies in Europe. “During this cooling off period,
not only will tensions be reduced between the U.S. and the EU but importantly both USTR and
the UK Secretary of State for International Trade may on the margins of the U.S.-UK Free Trade
Agreement negotiations resolve the UK aspects of the Airbus matter, thereby, providing clarity
for removing the issue from the Airbus settlement negotiations” said Tobiassen.
The revised Airbus tariffs now include additional wines and spirits from France and Germany.
All still grape wines (including Tokay and Marsala) either above or below 14 percent alcohol by
volume (ABV) and in a container of any size are subject to a 25 percent retaliatory tariff at 12:01
am, January 12, 2021. Bottles and bulk imports of these wines are tariffed. Effervescent wine
but not sparkling wine is also added. Currently, Airbus tariffs of 25 percent are imposed on
grape wines not over 14 percent ABV in containers of not more than 2 liters are tariffed.
The revised Airbus tariffs now include distilled spirits derived from grape wine or must, such as
brandy, Armagnac, and Cognac are covered here (but not Calvados) in containers not over 4
liters and having a value of over $38 per proof gallon. Pisco and Singani are expressly excluded.
Currently, Airbus tariffs of 25 percent are imposed on single malt Scotch whisky and Irish
whiskey and liqueurs and cordials from certain EU Member States.
“The rationale of the timing selected by the EU Commission for the timing of the trade volume
determination is a technical argument at best and one that does not merit the potential risk of the
EU simply retaliating,” said Tobiassen, and adding; “It is wishful thinking regardless of the
statement in the USTR Press Release that the U.S. showed restraint in the adjustments it made
when adding more products to the Airbus tariffs list in a manner so as not ‘in order to not
escalate the situation.’ In this season of “perpetual joy” to quote Charlie Brown, this gift is more
like a lump of coal from Charles Dicken’s immortal protagonist saying “Bah Humbug.”
NABI is a nation-wide trade association representing importers of wine, distilled spirits, beer,
malt beverages, cider, and mead since 1935. NABI is the “eyes, ears, and voice” for these
importers in the Nation’s Capital and the consumers they proudly serve.
For further information, please contact NABI at (202) 393-6224 or firstname.lastname@example.org