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Distilled Spirits Council Weighs In On Tariff War

June 8, 2018

The Distilled Spirits Council has warned the U.S. government of the potential consequences of a trade war over the Trump administration’s recent tariff hikes on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico, and Europe. In a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Distilled Spirits Council interim president and CEO Clarkson Hine said he’s “extremely concerned” about retaliation in response to the move.

As SND reported yesterday, Mexico, Canada, and the European Union are increasing tariffs on U.S. whiskey exports in response to new steel and aluminum tariffs (25% and 10%, respectively) implemented by the Trump administration. The EU and Mexico are adding a 25% tariff on American whiskies, while Canada is adding 10%. The Mexican tariff is effective immediately, while the Canadian and EU levies will go into effect in July.

The Distilled Spirits Council said exports worth approximately $759 million—representing 46% of global U.S. spirits exports and 65% of global U.S. whiskey exports—are the target of the retaliatory tariffs. New tariffs “would severely harm producers, U.S. farmers…distribution and logistics providers, as well as other input providers such as glass and other packaging suppliers,” the letter said, noting that the spirits sector directly and indirectly employs about 1.5 million people in the United States. Over the past two decades, U.S. spirits exports have increased from $575 million in 1997 to $1.64 billion in 2017, a rise of 185%, the letter added.—David Fleming

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