Trump’s Trade War Set to Slam U.S. Bourbon and Whiskey Producers

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Trump’s Trade War Set to Slam U.S. Bourbon and Whiskey Producers

Photo Credit: Thomas Carr / Shutterstock.com

On Thursday, May 31, the Trump administration imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products from the E.U., Canada, and Mexico. Yet the latest “America first” policy looks set to cause as much damage to U.S. industry, including whiskey and bourbon distillers, as it does the nation’s foreign allies.

In response to the 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum, both the E.U. and Canada announced their intentions to take immediate retaliatory action.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hit out at the “protectionist” policies, saying that the Commission would react by taking its case to the World Trade Organization, as well as imposing “additional duties on a number of imports from the US.”

The politically-targeted imports include whiskey, bourbon, Levis jeans and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Whiskey was also included in Canada’s list of retaliatory surtaxes, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lamented the developing trade war, calling the imposed tariffs “totally unacceptable.”

The trade dispute looks set to strike just as bourbon exports are beginning to boom. Sales to the European Union totaled $154 million last year, up from $128 million in 2016, with sales in the U.K. (Europe’s largest importer of bourbon) enjoying 7 percent growth in 2017 alone.

A final round of trade talks will take place before the tariffs are imposed in mid-June and distillers have faith that the situation may yet be resolved.

“The Kentucky Distillers’ Association has long been an advocate of free and fair trade which has catapulted our legendary craft into an unparalleled chapter of global success,” Kentucky Distillers’ Association president Eric Gregory said in an official statement.

“We remain hopeful that continued negotiations will avoid a costly trade war and protect our allies and partnerships around the world, which will continue to benefit spirits producers and consumers for years to come.”


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