Whiskey groups call for end to tariffs at Louisville 'summit'
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Calling themselves “one big whiskey family,” the leaders of nine trade associations representing whiskey makers throughout the world gathered in Louisville Thursday to call for the removal of tariffs imposed on their products as part the global trade dispute President Trump ignited this summer.
“Our industry was caught in the middle of this,” said Kentucky Distillers Association President Eric Gregory, whose group convened the “W9 Summit” at the Frazier History Museum.
In response to President Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, the European Union, Canada and Mexico have imposed tariffs on American whiskey this month, according to executives at the summit.
The executives said they were encouraged by Trump’s meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker on Wednesday, in which the two leaders vowed not to escalate the dispute and to keep talking about resolving it.
The E.U. imposed a 25 percent tariff on American whiskey, said Clarkson Hine, interim CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., making products like bourbon more expensive in a “vitally important” market.
“We’ve had duty-free access to each other’s markets for more than 20 years, and that environment has helped support the fantastic growth of American whiskey in overseas markets,” said Hine, who is also a senior vice president at Beam Suntory Inc., the parent company of Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and other Kentucky bourbon brands.