Budweiser might have made headlines by labeling their beer as “America,” but Big Beer is not happy about Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda. This week, the Beer Institute, the brewing industry’s heavyweight lobby, soundly condemned the administration’s plan to impose tariffs on aluminum imports.
On Friday (2.16), Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross released a plan comprised of quotas and tariffs aimed at reducing metal imports. The Commerce Department’s much ballyhooed “Section 232” proposal offered the POTUS a couple choices. The first plan suggested a tariff of 7.7% on aluminum imports from all countries. The second option included a tariff of 23.6% on imports from five specific countries. 232 also included a suggested quota aimed at reducing aluminum imports from most countries by 13%.
Aluminum cansheet is a necessary component in the manufacture of beer cans.Over 50% of the beer produced annually in U.S. is packaged in aluminum cans or aluminum bottles. Needless to say, the brewing industry was not pleased with the plan.
“It is disheartening that Secretary Ross did not recommend to President Trump excluding primary aluminum and cansheet from tariffs and other import restrictions in the Department of Commerce’s 232 report,” Jim McGreevy, Beer Institute President and CEO countered in a statement. “Additionally, we are concerned that the secretary seems to have minimized the multiple concerns that downstream aluminum users have raised. Instead, he is recommending draconian tariffs and import restrictions that will increase costs and endanger American jobs.”
A second letter jointly sent from American Beverage Association, Beer Institute, Can Manufacturers Institute, and brands ranging from Coca-Cola to Constellation to Rogue Ales also protested the tariff. The document states that a 10 percent tariff on aluminum would cost beer and beverage producers $256.3 million annually and a 20 percent tariff would cost $512.5 million annually.
Section 232 allowed Trump to order the Commerce Department to first investigate the effects of aluminum imports on national security and then take action before April 20, 2018. However, brewers are crying foul on that premise.“Aluminum used to make beer cans is not a national security threat, stated McGreevey. “If the president accepts any of the recommendations from the Commerce Department’s report on aluminum imports, it will dramatically increase the cost of aluminum in the U.S. and put at risk American jobs in the beer industry, as well other industries that are users of aluminum.”