Trade and tariffs: It’s the story that won’t sit still.
Writer Robin Shreeves first dug into the topic for Spirited in May, when President Trump imposed his first trade sanctions on imported items and raw materials, including steel and aluminum, against China and other non-allied countries (“Tariffs Take a Toll,” online at www.spiritedbiz.com). But the story didn’t stop there.
Since that filing, tariffs have been extended to friendlier (for now) trade partners, including Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. In response, the E.U. announced retaliatory tariffs against U.S. goods, including bourbon and other American whiskeys, to the tune of €2.8 billion. Mexico followed suit with their own tariffs that included U.S. steel and bourbon. And Canada has likewise announced tariffs against U.S. steel, aluminum, and other products.
These moves prompted the Distilled Spirits Council to draft and deliver a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, which expressed concern for “the impact that retaliatory tariffs will have on U.S. distilled spirits producers, as well as their agricultural and supply chain partners.” Read the full letter here.
Also in response, Molson Coors Brewing Co. Chairman Pete Coors in May wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal (May 14), urging the president to end the Midwest Premium, a nebulous and volatile fee that’s added to every order of U.S. aluminum and is supposed to pay for transport, storage and delivery of the metal. To date there’s been no action on Coors’ proposal.
Don’t expect this one to fade fast. Spirited will continue to monitor and report on the situation as it impacts the beverage industry.