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New tariffs could soon have your wine costing double

If the 100 percent tariff goes into effect, European wine prices could skyrocket

SAN DIEGO — If you are a fan of French or Italian wines, the cost of it could soon double.

The Trump administration has proposed a 100 percent tariff on several European goods including wine. The proposal has many in the wine industry worried they will lose their jobs.

"I was horrified, I was horrified," said Tami Wong. She's a wine wholesale representative. She sells lots of different kinds of wine, many are from Europe.

She says if the tariffs are imposed at 100 percent, she will lose her job. 

"It will decimate the industry because the bulk of the importers and distributors are small and independent," she said. "You don't have another product to fall back on."

The new threat of tariffs comes after France imposed a "digital services tax" on American companies like Amazon and Apple. A 25 percent tariff was already imposed last fall in retaliation for what the World Trade Organization ruled was illegal European subsidies to French aircraft maker Airbus.

Wong says businesses were able to find ways to avoid hiking up prices then, but now would be a different story.

"We're not going to be able to absorb 100 percent tariff," she said. "We'll have to pass that along to the consumer."

In other words, if you're used to paying ten to fifteen dollars for a glass of wine at a restaurant, you could pay twenty to thirty dollars for that same glass.

UCSD economics professor Marc Muendler, who is also part of the Center for Commerce and Diplomacy, says tariff policy is hard to predict at the moment, but it's certainly possible a high tariff will be imposed.

"The symbolism is important," he said. "It adds to the general sense, 'What's in the making? What is the long-term rationale and outlook for US tariffs and US trade policy?'"

While it might seem like all of this could benefit domestic winemakers, there's a fear the ripple effect could increase wine prices here at home.

There's domestic wine that's really good it speaks of its own place," said Wong. "But it’s not going to taste like something else. I sell a San Diego County Sangiovese but it doesn't taste like a Granello or Chianti. It's a completely different experience."

There is no timeline for the implementation of these tariffs.

Besides wine, President Trump has also proposed a 100 percent tariff on European cheese, olives and handbags. An open comment period with the US Trade Representative closed Monday. An online petition at change.org has nearly 9,000 signatures. You can still contact your local representative to voice your opinion.

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