Nearly 150 US companies voice concern over tariffs

10th January, 2019 by Melita Kiely

The Distilled Spirits Council and almost 150 business groups have signed a letter highlighting the negative impact retaliatory tariffs have had on US-made products – including American whiskey.

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American whiskey has found itself in the firing line of numerous trade wars with the US

The US found itself embroiled in numerous trade wars in 2018, which began in March last year when US president Donald Trump revealed plans to impose a 25% import duty on steel and a 10% import duty on aluminium.

The EU responded with tariffs on €2.8 billion worth of US products, including American whiskey, last June.

Consequentially, Brown-Forman confirmed the cost of its American whiskeys – such as Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester – would go up by around 10% in EU markets where it owns its distribution in the months that followed.

Now, almost 150 companies have joined together to form the Americans for Free Trade, comprising manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, retailers, technology companies, service providers, natural gas and oil companies, importers and exporters, and other supply chain stakeholders.

In a letter to Congress, the companies have raised their concerns about the “negative impacts that indiscriminate tariffs will continue to have on US businesses, workers and consumers”.

The letter continued: “We share the broadly-held concern about the impact to the US economy of the Section 301 tariffs on imports from China, Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminium imports and corresponding retaliation against US exports.

“We agree that China must be held to account for its violations of our trade laws and the international trade obligations all nations share.

“We continue to see stories on a daily basis about companies, both large and small, who are being harmed by these tariffs. Similarly, the tariffs on imported steel and aluminium, and the resulting retaliatory tariffs on US exports are further harming US companies of all sizes.

“We also strongly encourage Congress to exercise its oversight role on trade policy matters to prevent further harm to US workers, consumers and families that will result from both the existing and proposed tariffs.”

Trump’s administration has also added tariffs to an extra US$34bn worth of Chinese products, which was in addition to a previous extra 25% tariff on Chinese imports worth US$50bn.

This sparked the “largest trade war in economic history”, and China responded with its own tariffs, including a 25% tariff on American whiskey.

Canada also slapped a 10% tariff on American whiskey, alongside additional tariffs on more than 250 US-made goods, plus a 25% duty on US metal imports.

Christine LoCascio, Distilled Spirits Council senior vice president for international trade, said: “American whiskey is the only US agricultural product subject to retaliatory tariffs by all of the retaliating trade partners.

“The US spirits industry, American farmers and our consumers worldwide have benefitted from trade agreements, which have opened markets around the world for US exporters.

“We hope the new Congress will urge continued dialogue with our trading partners to secure the prompt removal of the retaliatory tariffs, so that free and fair trade for US distilled spirits can be resumed.”

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