National politics are creeping into the bar room again. On Thursday (3.02), President Trump imposed a 10% tariff on aluminum imports and declared his affection for trade wars, Those actions might be that the cost of beer and soft drinks will be on the rise. Aluminum just so happens to be the key ingredient in beer cans and the industry is not happy.
“According to third-party analyses, this 10% tariff will create a new $347.7 million tax on America’s beverage industry, including brewers and beer importers, and result in the loss of 20,291 American jobs,” Jim McGreevy, Beer Institute President and CEO responded in a statement “We appreciate the many members of Congress—both Republicans and Democrats—as well members of the cabinet who spoke out against imposing this tariff, many of whom specifically cited their concerns for how this tariff would negatively impact America’s beer industry.”
The presidential decision was the latest step in a “Section 232” process ordered by POTUS. The rule allowed Trump to order the Commerce Department to first investigate the effects of aluminum imports on national security, present options for action, and then finally order a response. However, brewers are not buying the idea that aluminum imports are a threat to national security.
“While we won’t know the details for a week, the Department of Defense recently reported that aluminum does not cause any national security issues,” MillerCoors countered in a statement. Likewise, McGreevey pointed out that the majority of imported aluminum can sheet hails from Canada, a strong American ally.
“We urge the Department of Commerce and President Trump to consider the adverse impact that the trade restrictions on aluminum will have on the more than two million American jobs before making his final decision,” AB InBev Chief Financial Officer Felipe Dutra said during a conference call with reporters, adding: “We will be following that and monitoring that closely.”
Despite the announcement, the tariff is not official yet. Trump has some paperwork to file and several politicians are joining in the industry’s calls to abort the measure. Republican Senators Ben Sasse, Mike Lee, and Pat Roberts all blasted the measure. Lee called it “job-killing.”
More than half of the beer sold in America is packaged in aluminum cans. Industry observers fear that craft beer drinkers could switch to spirits or wine due to price increases. Political observers wonder how Trump’s base, literally described as “Joe Six Pack” will react.