Tariff battles are always someone else’s problem until they hit you in the pocketbook and the pocket of distilled spirits makers has just been picked again, this time by China.
In a statement from the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), “Imposing 25 percent tariffs on U.S. whiskeys could put the brakes on an American export success story,” said Senior Vice President of International Trade Christine LoCascio. “American spirits exports to China have grown by almost 1,200 percent, from $959,000 in 2001 to $12.8 million in 2017.”
“We hope the United States and China can soon resolve their differences so that U.S. whiskey exports to China will no longer be subject to the 25 percent tariff, which will harm Chinese consumers, its hospitality sector, U.S. whiskey exporters and the U.S. farmers that supply them.”
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Total U.S. spirits imports to China in 2017 were valued at $12.8 million; of this $8.9 million was whiskey. The Council has conducted a U.S. spirits export promotion program, now featuring an American Whiskey ambassador, in China since 2007.
“Chinese consumers, like others around the globe, are clearly finding favor with the flavor, heritage and mixability of American Whiskey. It would be a shame to punish those consumers, along with the Chinese hospitality sector, as an unintended consequence of this trade dispute,” LoCascio concluded.
The Distilled Spirits Council strongly supported China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001. This resulted in a dramatic reduction in China’s tariffs on U.S. spirits, from 65 percent to 10 percent ad valorem. In addition, China last year further lowered its tariffs on whiskeys and brandies to 5 percent as part of a wider effort to lower tariffs on a range of consumer goods imports.
The Distilled Spirits Council is the national trade association representing the leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits in the United States. The Council guards the sector against higher taxes and works diligently to reduce trade barriers across the globe, while supporting policies that increase adult market access for spirits products, provide greater convenience and choices for adult consumers, and encourage responsible and moderate consumption.
DISCUS Voting Members
Distilled Spirits Council members include many of the largest distillers in the world. DISCUS voting members include the following companies.
- Agave Loco Brands
- Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.
- Beam Suntory
- Brown-Forman Corporation
- Campari America
- Constellation Brands, Inc.
- Luxco, Inc.
- Moet Hennessy USA
- Pernod Ricard USA
- Remy Cointreau USA, Inc
- Sidney Frank Importing Co., Inc.
DISCUS Affiliate Members
The ranks also include affiliate members representing more than 100 craft spirits makers across the United States. The Affiliate Member Advisory Council is represented by the following companies.
- Chairman: Ted Huber, Huber’s Starlight Distillery
- Regional Vice Chairmen: Northeast: Steve Johnson, Vermont Spirits Distilling
- South: Dan Garrison, Garrison Brothers Distillery
- Midwest: Guy Rehorst, Great Lakes Distillery
- West: Tom Mooney, House Spirits Distillery