We have many clients and friends in the wine, food, restaurant and hospitality industries. The proposed 100% tariffs will have a grave effect on these industries. I wrote the following letter to the U.S. Trade Representative opposing the proposed tariffs.
Mr. Robert Lighthizer
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
600 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20508
Re: Tariffs on Certain European Goods Including Wines, Cheese and Olive Oil
Dear Mr. Lighthizer:
I am an attorney living and working in New York City. My law practice includes clients and professionals in the food, wine and hospitality industries. In my personal life, I have been a wine collector for decades. In both my professional and personal capacities, I have become intimately aware of the economics of the food and wine trade. I am writing to respectfully urge you not to implement the proposed tariffs, because they will cause severe negative consequences to the U.S. workforce, will result in lower tax revenues and will cause strain on our economy.
At the outset, I wish to point out that I am not writing out of any self-interest with respect to the price of European wines increasing for American consumers as a result of the implementation of the proposed tariffs. I have a cellar full of wines, thousands of bottles, and thus if the tariffs are implemented, I can easily forego any future purchases of European wines at higher prices. But therein lies the problem: I, and millions of other U.S. consumers, will certainly curtail or stop entirely the purchase of European wines, which will have a devastating impact on thousands of jobs throughout multiple sectors of the U.S. economy. Thus, I respectfully submit this letter on behalf of my clients and friends in the wine, food, restaurant and hospitality industries.
While my comments herein focus on wine, they apply also to other affected products such as European cheese and olive oil, which are, on their own, important sectors that employ thousands of Americans.
I have close friends and clients who have built businesses, employed many people, and generated sizable tax revenues by importing European wines. These businesses will shutter, their owners and employees will be rendered unemployed, and our local, state and national tax revenues will shrink.
These friends and clients are emblematic of our U.S. economy – these are entrepreneurs who took risks, found foreign products to import, grew their businesses, created jobs and hired employees, entered into contracts with other businesses, and paid their local, state and federal taxes.
The negative ripple effect will be significant and will impact related sectors and businesses. As a small sample of examples:
The truckers who will no longer transport these products;
The CPAs, marketers, public relations and other consultants who will no longer be needed for the failed businesses;
The retail store owners (already a sector that, as you know, is failing in wide swaths across the country), hotels and restaurants who will no longer sell these products, down to waitstaff;
The landlords and real estate owners who will no longer collect rents from the businesses which will fail.
Many thousands of American jobs will be lost. Many people will need public assistance and unemployment benefits. Many billions of tax dollars will disappear.
Tariffs on European wines will not strengthen the U.S. domestic wine industry. U.S. wine consumers, including people, restaurants and hotels will turn to purchasing wines from Australia, Argentina, Chile, South Africa and other non-European sources.
I do believe that it is correct to push back on unfair trade practices. However, the proposed tariffs are not the correct answer. As outlined above, these tariffs would do more harm than good for the United States and its workforce.
Further, to the extent that the proposed tariffs are designed to punish the European economy, this would not be the consequence; the European producers of wine, cheese and olive oil would pivot away from the U.S. market and would sell instead to alternative markets, including the huge and lucrative Asian market.
I respectfully urge you to continue to advocate for our American trade interests, and to continue to fight against unfair trade practices, but not to implement the proposed tariffs, because of the significant harms these tariffs will bring to U.S. business owners, employees and taxpayers.