Distilled Spirits Council receives $400k to mitigate tariffs impact

The Distilled Spirits Council has been granted an extra US$400,000 in funding to combat the effect of retaliatory tariffs, which are “severely threatening” the American spirits industry.

The Distilled Spirits Council applied for the additional funding through USDA’s Agricultural Trade Program (ATP), which was established specifically to assist agricultural groups that have been “adversely impacted” by retaliatory tariffs.

Since January 2019, the trade body has been awarded US$1.215 million. It was one of 48 recipients that applied for US$200m in ATP funds in 2018, which was awarded earlier this year.

The Distilled Spirits Council will use the extra money to conduct export promotion initiatives, such as market research, media campaigns and in-market promotions in key export markets.

American whiskey in particular has been caught up in numerous trade wars over the past year, which came about due to US president Donald Trump’s introduction of tariffs on aluminium (10%) and steel (25%).

Chris Swonger, Distilled Spirits Council president and CEO, said: “We appreciated USDA’s recognition that the negative impacts of the retaliatory tariffs on US spirits are accelerating and severely threatening what has been a great American trade success story.

“While this funding will help mitigate some of the negative impacts of the retaliatory tariffs, we continue to urge US policy makers and our trade partners to bring an end to these burdensome tariffs.”

This week, more than 150 US distillers gathered in Washington DC for the annual Public Policy Conference, where they discussed the “devastating impacts” retaliatory tariffs have had on spirits exports and to call for permanent tax cuts for the industry.

American whiskey has been the target of retaliatory tariffs from numerous regions in the past year, including China, the EU, Mexico and Canada.

In May this year, the US came to an agreement with Canada and Mexico to repeal retaliatory tariffs on American whiskey exports to both countries.

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