December 5, 2023

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Sens. Paul, McConnell Urge Biden Administration to Protect American Jobs, Remove Retaliatory Tariffs on Bourbon and Spirits

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wrote a letter to the Biden Administration urging quick action to protect the millions of U.S. jobs that rely on American bourbon and spirits producers. Without urgent action, the European Union (EU) will implement a 50% tariff on American whiskey imports on January 1, 2024, and American wine and other distilled spirits imports could see sharp tariff increases by 2026.

Retaliatory tariffs by the EU have cost domestic spirits distillers and winemakers billions of dollars since 2018, and the U.S. needs a permanent solution to safeguard over 1.7 million production, distribution, and hospitality jobs that rely on the industry. The bourbon and spirits industries support over 35,000 Kentucky jobs and over $14 million in state economic activity alone.

The senators’ letter urges U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to negotiate a deal to permanently remove retaliatory tariffs on all American-made spirits and wines.

“We write today to request an expedited agreement with the European Union (EU) to secure the permanent removal of retaliatory tariffs on spirits and wines,” the senators wrote. “We are deeply concerned that a lack of a permanent solution risks the re-imposition of tariffs.”

“Spirits have had a significant cultural impact in our country, and currently have a profound impact on the U.S. economy. In 2022 alone, U.S. distilled spirit exports reached $2.06 billion. But the impact of the retaliatory tariffs was devastating…Our belief is that the imposition of additional tariffs on this industry is detrimental,” the senators concluded. “There are mutual benefits in finding a path forward, and our belief is that spirits and wines are a point where there can be consensus to limit the damage for all parties.”

The bipartisan letter was also signed by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Todd Young (R-IN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mark Warner (D-VA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Katie Britt (R-AL), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Gary Peters (D-MI).

The full text of the letter can be found HERE.





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