spirits producers celebrate the dropping of the bourbon tariff by the EU | Kentucky News


By BEN TOBIN, Le Courrier Journal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Bluegrass State bourbon industry leader and Louisville-based spirits producer applaud U.S.-European Union deal aimed at lifting tariffs on bourbon and whiskey.

The United States and the European Union have been in a trade war since 2018, when the former imposed a 25% tariff, or import tax, on European steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum under then President Donald Trump. The European Union retaliated with tariffs on American products, including 25% on American bourbon whiskey.

That tariff on a major Kentucky product was set to double on December 1. But now, for bourbon producers, “it’s time to raise a drink,” according to Kentucky Distillers Association president Eric Gregory.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Saturday announced a deal in which the United States will allow a certain amount of European steel and aluminum to enter the countries without tariffs, and, in turn, the European Union will lower its retaliatory tariffs.

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Gregory said on Saturday that “these unfortunate tariffs have cut Kentucky Bourbon exports to the EU and the UK by 50%, costing distillers, industry partners and farming families hundreds of millions of dollars.”

According to Gregory, Kentucky’s bourbon exports had seen double-digit growth for a decade before tariffs were imposed in 2018.

“Bourbon is one of Kentucky’s most historic and valuable industries, an $ 8.6 billion economic and tourism engine that generates over 20,000 well-paying jobs each year with a $ 1 billion payroll. and welcomes nearly 2 million people a year to KDA’s world-renowned Kentucky. Bourbon Trail experiences, ”said Gregory, adding that Kentucky currently has an aging record of 10.3 million barrels.

He added: “The KDA thanks the steadfast leadership of the Biden administration, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, Congressman John Yarmuth and European officials for their tireless efforts to resolve this ongoing trade dispute and restore fairness. into overseas markets for Kentucky’s iconic distilled spirits. industry. “

Beshear tweeted on Sunday that the deal between the United States and the European Union was “great news.”

“Thanks to @SecRaimondo and the Biden administration and everyone who helped make this victory a reality for the Commonwealth,” Beshear wrote.

At a press conference Monday, Beshear said the deal “will prevent a catastrophic 50% tariff” on bourbon.

“These things were retaliation,” Beshear said. “They were hitting the bourbon harder than anywhere else because we can’t move production overseas like other companies were going to be able to do with other products.”

Lawson Whiting, president and CEO of Louisville-based Brown-Forman Corp., which produces bourbon brands like Old Forester, said on Sunday the company “looks forward to a level playing field on January 1. 2022, and continued international growth for American whiskey.

The news certainly gave Brown-Forman investors more confidence. On Monday afternoon, Brown-Forman (NYSE: BF.B) stock was trading above $ 70 per share for the first time since mid-September.

While happy with the drop in European Union tariffs, Whiting and Gregory are urging the UK to lower its tariff by 25% on bourbon.

“With the suspension of EU tariffs, we urge the leaders of the US and UK to resolve their own tariff dispute so that our legendary distillers can finally get back to doing what they do best – making the best Bourbon for the whole world, ”said Grégory.

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