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Economy

Tariff on European Wines Causes Pain for Local Businesses

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An economic dispute between the U-S and Europe is causing headaches for restaurants and others in the food and wine industry - and leaders want the Biden Administration to help.

Todd Fusco is a wine buyer with Art Mart in Champaign. He says the tariff on European food and wine increases costs for small businesses, which is adding to the pain they're already feeling because of COVID-19.

"When you throw in coronavirus, it seems silly to complain about tariffs, you know? But those two things together really threaten a lot of small companies that actually provide a lot of employment across the United States."

Hundreds of restaurants and small businesses have been forced to close because of economic pressures during the COVID pandemic. Fusco says for now Art Mart is doing the best it can, like so many others. But he says resolving the trade dispute and getting rid of the tariff would help a lot.

"You know, larger businesses probably have a little bit easier time to absorb these. Being small, we can be nimble, and we've been lucky, but it has been a headache."

Fusco says he'd like for the Biden Administration to find another way to negotiate - particularly when you look at how the restaurant industry is struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's like a stupid tax. We're taxing these goods, and it doesn't fix any of the problems. It just costs Americans jobs and money."

World leaders are expected to revisit the tariffs in the coming weeks. Fusco and others say they remain hopeful they can be eliminated altogether.