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Overseas tariffs sour U.S. whiskey exports

Kitco News

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American whiskey makers are feeling the pain after their major overseas markets imposed hefty duties on their liquor in retaliation against President Donald Trump’s tariffs on aluminum imports.

U.S. global whiskey exports, which include rye and bourbons, recorded a nifty 28 percent year-over-year increase in the first six months 2018, the Distilled Spirits Council said on Tuesday.

But once levies from Canada, Mexico, China and the European Union took effect, the collective whiskey exports from 37 U.S. states fell by 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.

(GRAPHIC: U.S. whiskey exports - tmsnrt.rs/2TIQTV2)

The tariff-induced drop wiped out the overseas sales gain the industry had enjoyed in the first half of 2018, 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 press conference. “Many of the small distillers have felt the effect on day one.”

In 2017, American whiskey producers exported $1.1 billion worth of their products. 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.

In 2017, American whiskey rang up a 6.6 percent increase in revenues from a year earlier to $3.6 billion, the group’s data showed.

In the wake of the EU’s imposing 25 percent tariffs last June, U.S. 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 American whiskey producers in the July-November period compared with the same period a year earlier, the group said.

Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Dan Grebler

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