Thu, Feb 14, 2019 - Page 10 News List

US whiskey exports drop as retaliatory tariffs take effect

Reuters, NEW YORK

Catoctin Creek Distillery whiskey is on display in a tasting room in Purcellville, Virginia, on June 20 last year.

Photo: AP

US whiskey makers are feeling the pain after their major overseas markets imposed hefty duties on their liquor in retaliation against US President Donald Trump’s tariffs on aluminum imports.

US global whiskey exports, which include rye and bourbons, recorded a nifty 28 percent year-on-year increase in the first six months of last year, the Distilled Spirits Council said on Tuesday.

However, once levies from Canada, Mexico, China and the EU took effect, the collective whiskey exports from 37 US states fell 8 percent in the period from July to November last year, compared with the same five months in 2017, according to the Washington-based industry trade group.

The tariff-induced drop wiped out the overseas sales gain the industry had enjoyed in the first half of last year, the group’s data showed.

“Tariffs are starting to have a negative effect on exports,” Christine LoCascio, the group’s senior vice president of international trade, told a news conference. “Many of the small distillers have felt the effect on day one.”

In 2017, US whiskey producers exported US$1.1 billion. Nearly 60 percent was shipped to the EU, 12 percent to Canada and the rest to other countries, including China.

On the other hand, the distillers fared better at home.

Last year, US whiskey rang up a 6.6 percent increase in revenues from a year earlier to US$3.6 billion, the group’s data showed.

In the wake of the EU’s imposing 25 percent tariffs in June last year, US whiskey exports fell 8.7 percent in the following five months, compared with the same period in 2017.

Canada’s 10 percent duties that took effect on July 1 resulted in an 8.3 percent sales decline in that country for US whiskey producers in the July-to-November period compared with the same period a year earlier, the group said.

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