Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:
We write in strong support of your determination to ensure U.S. rights and interests are upheld at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the Large Civil Aircraft Dispute with the European Union (EU). We appreciate your work to implement a thoughtful strategy that protects American interests and all the American workers harmed by illegal EU subsidies. We are disappointed that the EU continues to refuse to remove its illegal subsidies, and we encourage you to continue seeking a suitable outcome with the EU that will eliminate these subsidies and resolve this longstanding trade dispute. In the meantime, as you consider modifications to the related retaliation list in order to maintain pressure on the EU, we urge you to make changes that include taking a targeted approach and removing duties on food and drink products as that industry is struggling during the current pandemic.
We particularly are concerned that the economic situation in our country has changed dramatically since additional duties in relation to this case were imposed in October 2019. Tens of millions of Americans are now out of work and businesses across America have been devastated. We hope you will update the United States' approach in this case to eliminate unintended hardships for Americans trying to make ends meet and small businesses seeking to recover.
The economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly hard for the food, beverage, and hospitality industries in our country, which include many small and medium-sized retailers, restaurants, distributors, and manufacturers. For instance, many restaurants across the United States have closed their doors or are operating with limited seating capacity due to government mandates. In this environment, these businesses have minimal flexibility to raise prices. Additional duties on imported wine, spirits, and food products like fruit, pork, and olive oil cut into their already tight profit margins, further threatening the survival of these industries and the many jobs they support.
To help our constituents during this crisis, we urge you to remove all duties for food and drink products (HTS Subheadings 0203 through 2208) imposed in relation to this case without lowering the total value duties that can be imposed. We believe it is possible for our strategy to maintain maximum pressure on the EU to remove its subsidies case while avoiding harm to American workers, consumers, and small businesses to the greatest extent possible.
Thank you for your time and consideration of our request. We look forward to working with you to ensure we implement a thoughtful strategy going forward.