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The Trump administration may move forward with a metal tariff – and other industries could feel the repercussions.

Mike Pomranz
February 16, 2018

A looming global tariff on steel and aluminum proposed by the Trump administration that has already irked the U.S. beverage industry could now potentially have even more far-reaching ramifications for the food and drinks world: Word is spreading that the E.U. may already be preparing to retaliate by taxing signature American imports like Kentucky bourbon and Wisconsin cheese.

Back in July, 30 prominent beverage industry executive sent a plea to the Trump administration admonishing a proposal to place board tariffs on imported steel and aluminum to bolster the American metal trade. The tariffs, the administration claimed, would avoid a    “national security threat” posed by the country's weakening ability to produce these metals. Now, as the proposal moves forward, other industries have reason to worry as well: According to the Financial Times, the Trump administration has been given the go-ahead to enact those proposed tariffs – at least 24 percent for steel and 7.7 percent for aluminum – or similarly drastic measures, and America’s global trading partners are already planning the inevitable backlash, specifically targeting products they know will hit home with the American public.

Officials in Brussels are reportedly eying retaliatory tariffs on items like bourbon and cheese, not just because they are signature American products, but because as the Financial Times puts it, they are “politically sensitive.”

Beyond being high profile items, Kentucky and Wisconsin represent two states Trump won during the 2016 election. As a relatively purple state, Wisconsin is especially the kind of target that could have actual political ramifications if a trade war was to damage business within the state.

For now, we’re still in the stage of global political posturing. Trump talked tough about protectionist policies throughout his campaign, but like many of his proposals, actual action has been slow. That said, if you’re reading this from abroad, it might not be the worst idea to stock up on bourbon. One, it’s not like it’s going to go bad, and two, you’ll have it ready to drink when you need it.