Until 2018, the recent history of American Whiskey was a tale of boom and skyrocketing sales. However, last year, the Trump administration initiated a series of trade wars and the booming bourbon export market ground to a halt as other nations imposed retaliatory tariffs on American Whiskey. This weekend, some good news arrived. The U.S. announced new agreements with Canada and Mexico, including an end to whiskey tariffs (from those nations).
President Trump lifted import taxes Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum on Friday (5.17). Reciprocating, Canada and Mexico lifted their retaliatory tariffs including the whiskey tax.
“With this critical issue now resolved, we look forward to joining the various efforts to support the prompt Congressional passage of U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which includes important benefits for our industry,” said Chris Swonger, President & CEO of the liquor industry trade group, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DSCUS).
According to DSCUS, whiskey exports to the two nations total some $62.1m. Canada is ranked as a top ten export market for American whiskey.
Unfortunately, the bulk of the marked drop in American whiskey sales is due to tariffs in nations aside from Canada and Mexico. The EU was the primary export market for American Whiskey until the trade disputes began. From January through June 2018, net US whiskey exports were up 28%; in the six months after the EU tariffs were imposed, exports reversed course and dropped to -8.2%. Those tariffs still stand.
“We are very encouraged by today’s news, and we hope the U.S. and our trading partners can build on this positive momentum to resolve all of the remaining retaliatory tariffs that our US distilled spirits exports face, particularly the European Union’s 25 percent tariff on American Whiskey,” added Swonger.