Josh Greene on Potential Tariffs, a Letter to the US Trade Representative

The Honorable Robert Lighthizer
U.S. Trade Representative
Executive Office of the President
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006

In Reference to Docket Number USTR–2019–0003

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed tariffs on European goods, specifically wine. Many of my fellow citizens have written eloquently on the economic impact the proposed tariffs would likely have on the wine industry: The proposed 100 percent tariffs on European wine would be an existential threat to hundreds of small businesses, including my own, and a painful disruption to larger entities in the industry, which will likely incur significant job losses.

The resolution of the trade dispute involving Boeing comes at a time when that company is undergoing a significant existential threat of its own. The change of leadership at Boeing signals new opportunities to heal some of the wounds to the company’s international reputation and to return its fleet to service with an assurance of safety and security for those onboard.

This opportunity to restore the company’s reputation presents not only a technological challenge, but also a diplomatic one, rebuilding trust internationally.

So, as the Trade Representative considers enforcement of US WTO Rights, it is valuable to consider wine’s role as diplomatic currency.

Boeing needs diplomatic currency right now. The seemingly intangible benefits of meeting over dinner and a bottle of great American wine can be significant. These cultural moments bring us closer to our potential partners, allies and friends. The value in that form of sharing has been proven over the ages.

Treating wine like a commodity to which we apply steep tariffs, rather than acknowledging its cultural value, strips our own wine of much, if not all, of its diplomatic currency. That currency is tied to wine’s place as one of our culture’s oldest agricultural traditions, a beverage we bless and share in houses of worship throughout the world.

The proposed tariffs would not only impact businesses and jobs in the US, but they would also have a powerful impact on European farmers. The pain we inflict on them will be felt by our trade negotiators and diplomats for years to come. A dinner with American wine will leave a bitter taste for our allies and friends abroad, or here, when European leaders will not want to be seen enjoying wine from California, or Texas, Oregon, Washington, Virginia, New York, or any of our 50 states, all of which produce it.

I hope you will consider the impact of burning this valuable diplomatic currency as you weigh the implementation of tariffs on European wine.

Sincerely yours,

Joshua Greene
Wine & Spirits Magazine, Inc.
New York, NY

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Tags  Tariffs January 2020  Tariffs