Global whiskey summit planned in Louisville to help trade conflicts
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- The world's top whiskey makers are holding a summit in Louisville next week.
Eight leading whiskey associations will gather to discuss trade issues that threaten the industry. The "W8 - Spirit of Collaboration Summit" is being hosted and coordinated by the Kentucky Distillers' Association, a non-profit trade group founded in 1880.
KDA President Eric Gregory told state lawmakers Thursday that the whiskey summit will be held to help create a "unified voice" to urge world leaders to resolve trade disputes.
Gregory said he's worried about long-term damage to Kentucky's bourbon industry, if trade conflicts persist.
President Donald Trump imposed tariffs earlier this year on products imported from China, Europe, Canada and Mexico. And those countries have hit back. The European Union imposed a 25 percent tariff on American bourbon and whiskey, making the products more expensive to buy.
Kentucky producers exported nearly $200 million worth of spirits to the EU in 2017.
"A lot of farmers are concerned with already depressed commodity prices, so they want to make sure they have an opportunity to market their crop this fall," said Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles.
In a release, Gregory said, "It's critical that we maintain this momentum and ensure that world leaders understand the deep economic impact of whiskey and how it will be affected if this unfortunate trade war escalates or continues to extend.
"The potential for long-term damage is real."
Participating trade associations include:
- Distilled Spirits Council
- Irish Whiskey & Spirits Associations
- Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Producers Makers Association
- Kentucky Distillers' Association
- Scotch Whisky Association
- Spirits Canada
- The President's Forum
The groups will meet July 25-26 in Louisville.
"I'm going to leave the negotiations up to our friends in Washington, D.C., but at the same time, I know that they understand the impact the bourbon industry has on the Kentucky farmer," Quarles said.
Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. The Associated Press contributed to this report All rights reserved.