Trade

American Whiskey is Finally Great Again

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

Exports account for about 25 percent of all sales of American whiskey and those sales and taken a beating because of Trump's trade war and the retaliatory tariffs imposed on American spirits by other countries.

Just how much have sales dropped? About 21 percent according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

The industry trade group is warning that things are bad now, but they could become much worse if Trump escalates his trade war again.

In the 12 months before the tariffs hit, the United States exported $757 million of rye and bourbon. From July 2018 to June 2019 exports were $597 million. Exports are a sizeable chunk of sales the U.S. whiskey industry, which generated $3.6 billion in revenue in 2018.

The Distilled Spirits Council said that 63% of U.S. whiskey exports have faced retaliatory tariffs from the European Union, China, Turkey, Canada and Mexico. The EU currently levies 25% tariffs on U.S. whiskey. [...]

"American whiskeys have become collateral damage," said Chris Swonger, chief executive of the Distilled Spirits Council at an Aug. 6 hearing with the U.S. Trade Representative. He urged Washington not to introduce the new tariffs because the industry fears Europe will introduce even more tariffs in retaliation.

The Spirits Council is warning that the industry could shed anywhere from 11,000 to nearly 80,000 jobs if Trump follows through on his threat impose tariffs in response to subsidies for European aerospace giant Airbus.

So, will Trump impose those tariffs?

It remains to be seen, but I believe he eventually will and European trade officials who spoke to the press in recent weeks say they expect Trump will impose tariffs by November.

Even if Trump doesn't impose tariffs in response to subsidies for Airbus, those are not the only tariffs he has threatened to impose. A threat to impose tariffs on foreign cars and car parts is still looming on the horizon. It feels inevitable that Trump will impose more tariffs for some reason at some time.