Cantwell, Murray, Colleagues Push for Removal of U.S. Wine Tariffs

Lawmakers ask U.S. Trade Representative to support international competitiveness of U.S. wine industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Patty Murray (D-WA) joined a bicameral group of lawmakers to call on the Trump administration to ensure any new trade agreements with China or Japan remove tariffs on United States wine. 

“As you conduct trade negotiations with China and Japan, we expect that you will consult closely with Congress on your objectives, requests, and progress,” the members wrote in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. “We urge you to ensure that any new agreements result in the removal of all tariffs, retaliatory or otherwise, on U.S. wine. The administration must do all it can to support the international competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.” 

Tariffs on U.S. wine sold in China rose to 54 percent this month, up from 14 percent in March 2018. In Japan, the tariff on U.S. wine is 15 percent. In both countries, foreign competitors face either no or significantly lower tariffs, making it harder for U.S. wineries to compete. 

“Despite more than a decade of concerted marketing efforts in China, including substantial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. wine will not be able to maintain a long-term Chinese presence in the face of such a wide disparity in trade conditions,” the members continued. 

Washington state’s wine industry supports $4.8 billion in total economic impact and includes more than 900 wineries, 350 wine grape growers, and nearly 70 varieties of wine. 

In addition to Cantwell and Murray, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) also signed the Senate letter. A letter in the House of Representatives was signed by U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), John Garamendi (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), and Eric Swalwell (D-CA).