Congress urgess Tai to put whiskey tariffs on the rocks

Iowa whiskey distilleries collaborate to help suffering restaurant community amid coronavirus

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WASHINGTON – Some 50 members of Congress on Monday urged U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to take action to secure removal of 25% tariffs on American Whiskey imposed by the European Union and Britain in retaliation for U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. 

US WHISKEY EXPORTS DECLINE AS TRADE DISPUTE WITH EU PERSISTS

The bipartisan group of House of Representatives members, led by Democrat John Yarmuth and Republican Andy Barr, both of Kentucky, warned that these tariffs, first imposed in June 2018 and scheduled to double to 50% on June 1, are damaging an American export success story.

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Publicly traded whiskey makers include Diageo, which owns famed scotch brand Johnnie Walker and bourbon maker Bulleit, Also, Brown-Forman, the parent company of Jack Daniels.

"Since the tariffs were imposed, our American Whiskey exports to the EU have declined by 37% and to the UK by 53%," the lawmakers wrote.

They said they hoped that recent agreements to suspend separate whiskey tariffs related to the dispute over government subsidies given to plane makers Boeing Co and Airbus SE would lead to "prompt removal of all tariffs on U.S., EU and UK wine and distilled spirits."

Permanently lifting the tariff burden will also support the recovery of restaurants, bars and small craft distilleries that were forced to shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, they wrote.

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The steel and aluminum tariffs were imposed under the jurisdiction of the Commerce Department under a Cold War-era national security trade law.

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Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has said those tariffs have been "effective" in protecting U.S. metals producers, while Tai has said a global solution to reduce excess production capacity for steel and aluminum, largely centered in China, was needed to resolve the industry's issues.

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