Gardner, Collins call for end to tariffs on EU-imported food, beverage products

U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Susan Collins (R-ME) requested that the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) remove the Section 301 tariffs that last fall were placed on food and beverage products being imported from the European Union (EU).

The tariffs are related to a nearly 15-year-long dispute between the United States and the EU over subsidies for airplane manufacturers, wrote Sens. Gardner and Collins in an Aug. 7 letter sent to USTR Robert Lighthizer.

Specifically, the senators want the 301 tariffs on imported food and beverages from the EU ended because they are causing increased financial strain for both American families and restaurants trying to keep their doors open during the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Restaurants, retailers, grocers, importers and distributors, many of which are small, locally owned businesses, have experienced severe economic hardship due to the increased cost of goods,” they wrote, referring to the 25-percent tariffs imposed in October 2019 on goods such as meat, cheese, wine, fruits, and olive oil. “Consumers are wary of increased prices during this uncertain time and the tariffs create an additional burden.”

Sens. Gardner and Collins added that while they understand the intricacies of the ongoing U.S. trade negotiations with the EU, the stress that has been placed on businesses in their states is significant.

“These industries have been hit hard by the pandemic and we encourage you to avoid subjecting workers and businesses that depend on these products from further economic harm,” the senators wrote.

Among the lawmakers who joined Sens. Collins and Gardner in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).