WineAmerica Applauds Quick Action of House on Country of Origin Labeling
June 11, 2015
Washington, D.C. – WineAmerica commends the House of Representatives on last night’s passage of H.R. 2393, the Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act of 2015. The bill passed with 300-131 votes. This bipartisan bill repeals the country of origin labeling requirements for beef, pork and poultry. The swift passage of the bill is the first step in avoiding costly retaliatory tariffs on wine and other products from Canada and Mexico.
On May 18, the World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement Body issued their final ruling against the United States country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for muscle cuts of meat. If the requirements are not repealed by the U.S. Government, Canada and Mexico will retaliate on a variety of American exports to Canada, including wine. In total, Canada has proposed $3 billion per year in tariffs to the WTO as retaliation.
Canada is the largest foreign market for American wine. Last year U.S. wine exports to Canada reached $487 million, a 7% increase from 2013. Retail sales for American wine in Canada now eclipse $1 billion. In 2013 the U.S. was the second largest exporter of wine to Canada, with a 16% market share among wine imports sold in Canada.
The preliminary Canadian plan would place a tariff on wine based on the value of the product entering the country. For example, a wine with a $10 import value would be hit with a $10 tariff, doubling the cost of the wine sent into the country. Apart from the immediate financial loss, the American wine industry could face damaging long term effects. Raising the price of a bottle of a U.S. wine will hinder competition with other wine regions, notably South Africa and Australia. The United States could lose shelf space that would take years to regain.
Tariffs will largely affect California wineries, but smaller, family owned wineries in Oregon, Washington, New York and Michigan will also be impacted. In 2014, Washington wineries exported a total of $7.5 million in total wine sales into Canada. Oregon sent almost 22,000 cases of their wine across the border in 2014.
WineAmerica worked closely with industry partners to represent the wine industry on this issue. Staff met with members of Congress, sent an industry letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, co-signed by members of its State and Regional Association Advisory Council (SRAAC), and assisted with the Congressional Wine Caucus’s ‘Dear Colleague Letter.’
WineAmerica urges the Senate Agriculture Committee to work quickly on this bipartisan issue. The American wine industry cannot afford to have costly tariffs placed on our products in such an important market and the Senate needs to act as quickly as possible.
For more information about COOL visit www.coolreform.com. View list of American commodities potentially targeted by Canada.
Questions and inquires should be directed to Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org