Distilled Spirits Council calls for end to retaliatory tariffs on US spirits

The Distilled Spirits Council, along with more than 45 business and agricultural groups, has called on the US to “take all necessary steps” to end its ongoing trade war with Mexico and Canada and minimise the damage to American businesses.

Last year US president Donald Trump sparked a trade war with several countries after he implemented a 25% and 10% import tariffs on steel and aluminium respectively from 1 June 2018.

In July, Canada hit back at the tariffs, raising its own duties on more than 250 US-made products – including a 10% tariff on American whiskey.

Meanwhile, Mexico has imposed a retaliatory tariff of 25% on US whiskeys, and China introduced a 25% hike on American whiskey imports.

The EU Commission meanwhile imposed a tariff on imports of Bourbon and American whiskey from July.

Nearly a year on, the US distilling industry is calling for more meaningful negotiations in order to bring the standoff to an end so that zero-tariff North American trade can resume.

The council and 45 business, which includes agricultural groups, have sent a letter to commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and US trade representative Robert Lighthizer requesting that the United States work with Mexico and Canada to end retaliatory tariffs on US goods as soon as possible.

“US spirits have been a target of the trade wars – with American whiskey the only US agricultural product subject to retaliatory tariffs by all of the retaliating trade partners,” said Distilled Spirits Council senior vice president for international affairs, Christine LoCascio.

“Open markets created by trade agreements have greatly benefited the U.S. spirits industry, American farmers and our consumers. We urge continued dialogue with Mexico and Canada to secure the prompt removal of the retaliatory tariffs,” she added.

In turn, it also wanted to secure prompt Congressional approval of the US – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“For many farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, the damage from the reciprocal trade actions in the steel dispute far outweighs any benefit that may accrue to them from the USMCA,” the letter reads. “The continued application of metal tariffs means ongoing economic hardship for US companies that depend on imported steel and aluminum, but that are not exempted from these tariffs. Producers of agricultural and manufactured products that are highly dependent on the Canadian and Mexican markets are also suffering serious financial losses.”

Full text of the letter can be downloaded here.

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