Distillers' Association watching as Trump administration announces tariffs, allies threaten retaliation

05/31/2018 01:39 PM

The Trump administration is announcing new tariffs on metals imported from close allies, which some fear will cause retaliation against business and consumers — including the bourbon industry in Kentucky.

Twenty-five percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, will take effect at midnight Thursday, the commerce secretary told national news outlets, according to the New York Times. The countries represent nearly half of the United State’s supply on imported metal.

The tariffs are meant to secure a promise President Trump made on the campaign trail — to protect American industries. However, US allies are already signaling they will retaliate targeting American goods.

European officials are expected to impose tariffs on goods like bourbon, and Levi’s jeans.

A tariff on bourbon could have major ramifications in the Commonwealth.

“Bourbon is a thriving $8.5 billion industry in Kentucky, generating 17,500 jobs with an annual payroll of $800 million, “ Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory said in a statement. “Spirits production and consumption pours more than $825 million into federal, state, and local tax coffers every year.

“We remain hopeful that continued negotiations will avoid a costly trade war and protect our allies and partnerships around the world, which will continue to benefit spirits producers and consumers for years to come.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has scoffed the tariff talk from Trump in recent months, telling national reporters in March the tariffs could “metastasize into a larger trade war.”

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