After a banner first half of 2018, exports actually declined year-over-year since July.

By Mike Pomranz
February 15, 2019

Tariffs have been a well-publicized part of President Trump’s economic policy, but their effects can be tricky for the average American to wrap their head around. Most of us aren’t buying things like raw steel or aluminum, and for consumer products, tariffs are usually factored into the cost, so even if you do notice a price change, you may not necessarily know why. But if you’re looking for data proving just how damaging tariffs can be to an industry, the Distilled Spirits Council recently released some numbers on a product you may be intimately familiar with: whiskey.

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After the Trump administration introduced tariffs on steel and aluminum last year, many of our trading partners including the European Union, Canada, Mexico, and China struck back with retaliatory tariffs — often against iconic and highly-visible American products like bourbon and whiskey. As a result, though U.S. whiskey exports were up 28 percent year-over-year during the first six months of 2018, those exports were actually down over 8 percent for the second half of the year from July to November when these retaliatory tariffs kicked in.

“For the first time, data can demonstrate the negative impact of retaliatory tariffs on what had been a booming export growth story,” Christine LoCascio, Senior Vice President, International Trade for the Distilled Spirits Council, was quoted as saying. “The tariffs are making it more difficult to be competitive in key markets,” she added, according to CNBC.

Meanwhile, Distilled Spirits Council president and CEO Chris Swonger wants this information to serve as more than just an example of basic economics. “We strongly encourage the Administration and our trading partners in the EU, Canada and Mexico to quickly resolve these harmful tariffs that are undercutting economic growth in this sector and adversely affecting American workers,” he pleaded — though the chances of that don’t seem likely.

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