Kentucky Bourbon Distillers Take Concerned Tone On Trump, EU Tariff Spat

The escalating war of words between American president Donald Trump and the European Union, among others, over foreign steel and aluminum tariffs the former has proposed on these materials as they come into the US has been met in kind by the EU leadership, saying a tariff war might result which could seriously mpact American goods such as bourbon when they hit European shores. Now the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, the trade group of most of the bourbon makers in Kentucky, has weighed in.

Golden Age of Whiskey

The bourbon industry’s range of bottlings (image via Kentucky Distillers Association)

In a statement released today by Eric Gregory, KDA president, he said that

“As we’ve seen this morning, many aspects of the President’s proposed trade policies are not yet known or are still evolving, including whether tariffs would exempt certain trading partners. Therefore, it’s premature to speculate on the specific impact to Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry until the facts are clear.

“Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most historic and treasured industries, a booming $8.5 billion economic engine that generates as many as 17,500 jobs with an annual payroll topping $800 million, pours $825 million into tax coffers each year, and drives tourism through the KDA’s famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventures.

“U.S. and EU spirits exporters have enjoyed duty-free access to each other’s markets for more than two decades, which has greatly benefited both spirits producers and consumers, and has resulted in increased exports, jobs and consumer choice.

“Any efforts to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. spirits exports to the EU will jeopardize this long-standing partnership, harm consumers through higher prices and more limited product availability, and significantly threaten the distilling renaissance that is creating industry jobs and generating billions in capital investment.”

In an infographic put up by WKYT, which you can see below, it is indicated at least two of the five top foreign countries which import bourbon could potentially fall into the EU’s response to Trump’s proposed tariffs. Whether or not he actually carries through on his domestic protectionist agenda around this, and how the EU and other nations ultimately respond, remains to be seen. Should such a tariff war begin, however, it could indeed stifle some whiskey development in the US.

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