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US/EU trade war moves step closer with American whiskey in the crosshairs

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The next few days will be "critical", trade association Spirits Europe has warned, if the European Union and the US are to avoid a trade war that impacts the drinks industry.

President Trumps decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports could have a retaliatory impact on American whiskey

President Trump's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports could have a retaliatory impact on American whiskey

Following the Trump administration's decision yesterday to impose a 25% levy on imports of steel and aluminium from the EU, Canada and Mexico, the industry is braced for retaliatory measures. In March, the EU issued a ten-page list of US goods that it planned to target with tariffs, including American whiskey.

The US Distilled Spirits Council expressed the hope that the US and its trading partners could resolve their differences "without subjecting US whiskey exports to retaliatory tariffs".

"A trade war will harm consumers, the hospitality sector, small businesses and US farmers that grow the grains used to produce iconic US whiskeys that are enjoyed around the world," the US trade association said.

Meanwhile, Spirits Europe urged the EU and its member states to "continue engaging" with the US, saying that it is ready to continue working together to fight protectionism.

"The next few days are critical," said Ulrich Adam, director general of Spirits Europe. "We trust the European Commission and member states will agree on a balanced and proportionate response that both defends Europe's interests and avoids further escalation of tensions."

The US is the EU's biggest overseas spirits market, with exports of more than EUR4bn (US$4.7m) in 2017, up 60% over the past decade.

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Sectors: Legislation, Spirits

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