February Update

Greetings!  On behalf of the newly elected board of directors and officers, thank you for your interest in helping the USWTA. We have been working since before the USTR’s 2/14 Airbus announcement to organize and structure the wine alliance to best represent all tiers of the American supply chain in the unified fight to end tariffs on wine imported to the US.  Leading voices in the fight against wine tariffs have joined to formally establish USWTA as a non-profit business league under 501(c)(6). That means if you are an importer, wholesaler, retailer, restaurant, or producer, the United States Wine Trade Alliance is fighting for you! 

Whether you attended our action meeting in NYC earlier this month, or have signed up to receive updates since that meeting was held, going forward we intend to provide you with tier-specific information and calls to action. For the past two weeks, principals of the nascent alliance including all of the February 5th event speakers have been working nearly every day to organize USWTA in the most effective way possible for the fight against wine tariffs going forward. 

This Tuesday, the following officers and USWTA Board of Directors were selected from across all three tiers of the US wine industry: Ben Aneff-President, Harmon Skurnik-Treasurer, Harry Root-Director & Congressional Liaison, Jeff Zacharia-Director, Andrew Fortgang-Director, with Chimene Macnaughton-Secretary. Our goal remains the same: to advocate for all US wine businesses in the fight to end tariffs on imported wine.

Although the USTR maintained EU tariffs at 25% status quo, and the next carousel is set for mid-August, the 2/14 decision contained some new and unsettling language which could impact the scope and the scale of the current tariffs, as well as timing needed to make changes to the current levels. In addition, we know the existential threat of 100% tariffs still looms. With DST actions in effect in both Italy and Austria as of 1/1/20, we feel and face that uncertainty across the supply chain and across the water.

Shortly, as we finish shaping the USWTA, there will be direct appeals made to each of you individually by tier, as well as targeted calls to action tailor-made for each segment: importers, distributors, retail, restaurants, and producers. Our March campaign in NYC will also focus on hospitality groups and sommeliers- look for our USWTA table at portfolio tastings this spring, and we’ll have another action meeting date set shortly for Manhattan. Director Harry Root will also be presenting on the tariffs at Charleston Wine & Food, March 4-8. If you are in the area and would like to attend, please let us know.

We’re headed to DC in March as well- if you’d like to join our working group on the Hill March 5th & 6th, please connect with Chimene directly here. We are encouraged by the USTR’s stay on wine tariffs, but it’s far from a victory, and with additional DST decisions playing out in Italy and Austria, and EU negotiations on Airbus, we will need to work hard for the foreseeable future to stave off risks to our industry.

Lastly, we want to remind everyone that this is a collaborative, all-channels effort. The USWTA was formed and will function as a coalition voice to return our industry to a zero-tariff environment.

We have begun our first round of fundraising under the USWTA banner, and we need your help. USWTA will continue to engage benchmark lobbying firms with expert-level, insider knowledge and relevant contacts, as well as PR firms to help engage key influencers in Washington, D.C., and beyond. The click-through badge at the bottom of the flier will message our fundraising committee directly. We want to hear from you! 

For USWTA membership and all press inquiries, please be in touch at contact@USWineTradeAlliance.org.

Thank you,

Chimene Macnaughton and Team USWTA

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