Why Italian wines may soon cost twice as much in the US

Why Italian wines may soon cost twice as much in the US
Italian wines on a supermarket shelf in California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/AFP
Brace yourselves, wine lovers. The price of Italian and other European wines in the US could double at the end of January.

A bottle of your favourite Chianti, Barolo or Prosecco could soon cost twice as much if you're in the US, as the Trump administration is threatening to slap 100 percent tariffs on all wines imported from Europe.

On December 12, the US government proposed a 100-percent tariff on all European wines (as well as cheeses, olive oils, whiskies, and many other products) to take effect in early 2020. 

The 100 percent tariff would increase an existing 25 percent tariff, which the US slapped on many European wines, as well as cheeses and other items amid an ongoing US-EU row about aircraft subsidies.

The tariff could be enforced as soon as the end of January, when current trade talks are expected to conclude.

Not only does this mean a bottle of Chianti currently costing $30 would suddenly cost $60, but American wine lovers might soon not be able to find their favourite European wines on the shelves.

Italian wines escaped the last round of tariffs, but some of the country's most famous cheeses were hit, including Parmesan, as were French wines and cheeses and many other much-loved food and drink items from across the continent.

READ ALSO: Parmigiano takes a hit as Trump's Italian cheese tariffs kick in

Italian Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for sale. Photo: AFP

If the US government goes ahead with theatened 100 percent tariffs, Italian wine producers would be among the worst affected in Europe.

By volume, Italy is by far the biggest exporter of wine to the US, according to US Department of Commerce figures.

The US is Italy's biggest food and wine export market outside of Europe.

Most US consumers haven't felt the impact of the 25 percent tariffs, as many importers and wholesalers absorbed the cost in hope of maintaining sales. 

But that won't be possible with the new, 100-percent tariffs, meaning a dramatic price increase in store for US consumers.

And America's wine drinkers won't be the only ones left out of pocket.

America's wine industry is sounding the alarm, with many experts saying the worst of the damage would be to US food and wine businesses.

Italian wines on display at a trade fair in Milan. Photo: AFP

“The truth is that the primary damage that will be done by this tariff will be to jobs and businesses in the United States,” wrote Ray Isle in the US magazine Food and Wine this week.

“The EU exports some €3.8 billion in wine to the US, representing over $8 billion in revenue for US companies. European wine producers will certainly be damaged in the short term by this tariff, but the majority of them will rework their export structures to concentrate on other markets,” he explained.

READ ALSO: 

“The businesses that won’t be able to recover will be US-based importers who concentrate on European wines,” he wrote. 

“Many will go out of business.”

American citizens concerned about the proposed tariffs can send their comments to the US Trade Representative until January 13. You can file a comment at www.regulations.gov.


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