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Tariffs will create Bourbon ‘casualties’

As an international trade row escalates, the US spirits industry has reiterated its warning that retaliatory tariffs will have a “significant impact” on Bourbon and other associated industries.

Bourbon has been named in tit-for-tat tariffs

On Friday, the European Union introduced tariffs on €2.8 billion (US$3.3bn) worth of US products – including American whiskey – in response to president Donald Trump’s tax hikes on imported aluminium and steel.

Other nations introducing tariffs in response to the White House include Turkey, India, Mexico and China.

Trade body the Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA) warned that “there are no winners in a trade war, only casualties and consequences”, adding that the retaliatory measures “will have a significant impact on Bourbon investment, employment and economic growth throughout the Commonwealth”.

KDA president Eric Gregory said: “An extended trade war would not only harm our iconic industry, but also Kentucky’s farm families, cooperages, glass and other suppliers, hospitality and tourism partners, and ultimately, our loyal consumers through higher prices and limited availability.”

Bourbon and other distilled spirits accounted for more than US$450 million in global exports from Kentucky last year – a 23% annual increase. Of that, almost US$200m was exported to EU countries.

The Distilled Spirits Council, which previously estimated that 46% of spirits exports could be hit by retaliatory tariffs, has similarly urged the EU and US “to re-engage as soon as possible to resolve the current situation and prevent needless further escalation”.

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