WSSA Discusses CBMA with Senator Ron Wyden and the TTB

Posted 09/16/2020

Alison Leavitt, Managing Director of WSSA, spoke to a virtual audience of over 300 attendees yesterday at the first day of the DISCUS-ACSA Public Policy Conference. Ms. Leavitt addressed the complexity of the CBMA legislation, the work WSSA has done to educate importers and assist them in obtaining the FET benefits under the law, and the need to extend CBMA as well as oppose tariffs on beverage alcohol both in the USA and abroad. 

Ms. Leavitt introduced Senator Ron Wyden (D. Oregon). Sen. Wyden introduced the original CBMA legislation, and continues the fight for permanence of the tax reduction. "Wyden noted that FET relief permanence has always been his objective and that he won’t stop pushing for it until that goal is achieved. 'I want everyone in this group to know how much I appreciate the working relationship we’ve had with all of you and I want you to know that we’re going to go the distance until we achieve what we set out to do years ago…Today’s discussion is not an ended discussion, it’s a to-be-continued discussion until there is a bill signed into law that makes it permanent and you have the certainty and predictability you need to grow your business.' ” (Craft Spirits Weekly, Sept. 15, 2020)

After Wyden’s comments, Ms. Leavitt introduced Sen. Roy Blunt ( R. Missouri), who appeared in a brief video presentation proclaiming his continued support and co-sponsorship of CBMA and expressed his pride in the distilleries who quickly pivoted to produce the much needed hand sanitizer to assist in the COVID fight.

Prior to Wyden’s remarks, there was a panel representing the top leadership in the TTB, led by Mary Ryan, the newly appointed Administrator of the agency. Mary outlined the core values of the TTB and the ongoing efforts to modernize the agency. She quoted positive numbers for the turnaround on label requests in FY 20, stating the time frame for labels for spirits has been reduced from 33 day to 9 days, and wine from 15 days to 4 days. TTB is also working hard to reduce errors by providing better outreach as well as addressing internal errors. Ms. Leavitt posed the question as to the interaction between TTB and CBP and whether “double” audits could be possible on CBMA imports. Lis Kann, Acting Assistant Administrator, took the question and advised that the two agencies partner as much as possible and share some information via ITDS and ACE systems. She advised that the auditors do coordinate efforts and that double audits should not occur. She offered her assistance should we have any issues. This comes as good news as we have worked with many of our members who have already experienced TTB audits on their CBMA imports.

Day one of the conference concluded with remarks by Rob Maron, Vice President, International Trade, advising on the next steps in the WTO Airbus and Boeing cases and the ongoing dispute on the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the USA. As we have reported in the past, the next round of reviews on the current retaliatory tariffs on EU beverage alcohol products under the Airbus case will be in February of 2021. There could be negotiations prior to that date, pending the result of the Boeing case expected in mid to late October 2020. We will keep you advised every step of the way.

Christine LoCascio, Chief of Public Policy for DISCUS, addressed the latest Dietary Guidelines, which reduced the number of beverage alcohol drinks considered “healthy”. DISCUS and other industry associations are pushing back on the latest announcement advising that science does not support the conclusions.

WSSA is a partner member of DISCUS and will continue to be active in Day two of the conference, which will focus on one-on-one virtual meetings with Congressional representatives. Should you have any questions on any of the above items, please let us know.