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Could the EU be preparing Bourbon tariffs?

The European Commission will “react firmly and commensurately” to president Donald Trump’s plan to impose duties on steel and aluminium imported into the US, meaning the future growth of American whiskey could be under threat.

The international growth of American whiskey could be hampered by a potential import tariff in the EU

Yesterday, president Trump said his government will impose a 25% import duty on steel and a 10% duty on aluminium.

The president said such imports threaten national security, but the EU has responded by claiming the US is instead seeking to impose protectionist trade measures.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, argued: “Protectionism cannot be the answer to our common problem in the steel sector. Instead of providing a solution, this move can only aggravate matters.”

The EU has said that both steel and aluminium are suffering from “global over capacity caused by non-market based production”.

Juncker has now confirmed that the EU will “react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests” by proposing counter-restrictions.

“We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk,” he said in a statement.

Juncker added: “The Commission will bring forward in the next few days a proposal for WTO-compatible counter-measures against the US to rebalance the situation.”

EU officials had previously suggested that such measures could affect agricultural products from the US, including American whiskey and Bourbon.

The US drinks industry hit out at the suggestion, warning that such action would harm consumers and producers alike.

Last year, when Trump launched an inquiry into steel imports, the Distilled Spirits Council said: “US and EU spirits exporters have enjoyed duty-free access to each other’s markets for more than two decades, which has greatly benefited both spirits producers and consumers and resulted in increased exports, jobs and consumer choice.

“Members of the Distilled Spirits Council have made considerable investments in both the US and the EU to create complementary product portfolios comprised of both domestic and imported brands. US whiskeys are an important component of these investment strategies and brand portfolios.

“Any efforts to impose retaliatory tariffs on US spirits exports to the EU will harm consumers, producers and the US and EU spirits sectors.”

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