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Trump-Era Hangover Set to Get Worse for Whiskey Makers

The EU's tariff rate is scheduled to double this summer
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 21, 2021 5:29 PM CDT

(Newser) – A hangover from Trump-era tariff disputes could become even more painful for American whiskey distillers unless their entanglement in a trans-Atlantic trade fight is resolved soon, per the AP. Bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, and rye whiskey were left out of recent breakthroughs to start rebuilding US trade relations with the European Union and the United Kingdom in the wake of Donald Trump's presidency. Tariffs were suspended on some spirits, but the 25% tariffs slapped on American whiskey by the EU and UK remain in place. And the EU's tariff rate is set to double to 50% in June in the key export market for US whiskey makers. A leading spirits advocate is imploring top US trade envoy Katherine Tai to not leave whiskey producers behind. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States urged her to press for an immediate suspension of the European tariffs and to secure agreements removing them.

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“Swift removal of these tariffs will help support US workers and consumers as the economy and hospitality industry continue to recover from the pandemic,” the council said in a recent statement after Tai was confirmed by the Senate. American whiskey makers have been caught up in the trans-Atlantic trade dispute since mid-2018, when the EU imposed tariffs on American whiskey and other U.S. products in response to Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on European steel and aluminum. Since then, American whiskey exports to the EU are down by 37%, costing whiskey distillers hundreds of millions in revenue between 2018 and 2020, the council said. American whiskey exports to the UK, the industry's fourth-largest market, have fallen by 53% since 2018, it said.

(Read more whiskey stories.)

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