Will Trump Kill the Bourbon Boom?

If President Trump follows through on his threat to impose tariffs on steel imports, expect to see an immediate response from the European Union — including retaliatory tariffs on, of all things, bourbon. 
Still, why bourbon? Trade officials aren’t stupid; when they retaliate, they hit where it hurts — which is not always obvious. 
Consider a recent trade battle between the United States and the European Union. In 2009 Washington imposed a 300 percent tariff on Roquefort cheese to force Brussels to lift a ban on American beef. Roquefort cheese may not be a strategic European industry, but it’s the lifeblood of many French villages, and the tariff was among the reasons the union eased the ban. 
Kentucky and Tennessee face similar financial burdens if trade talks go south and countries target American distilled spirits. Thanks to the $1 billion in spirits that America now exports, over the next six years Kentucky distilleries will invest more than $1 billion in expansions and new facilities.
It’s not just about tariffs. When you’re selling “America” abroad, you need deals in place to make sure no one else is copying the brand. But absent trade agreements, other countries are free to sell their own versions of American products. Like Champagne and cognac, bourbon’s name protection relies largely on trade deals that set standards and definitions; without them, foreign distillers are surely tempted to slap “bourbon” on anything they want.
Clearly, Trump is a threat to the republic that must be taken seriously. (Yes, sarcasm.)

This article is interesting because it highlights some of the intricacies of international trade today. On the other hand, there is a faint whiff of "Trump supporters are voting against their own interests" here as well, though maybe not. The author is Fred Minnick, author of “Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey,” so its in his wheelhouse, I suppose.


Grim said...

On the third hand, American consumers may benefit from cheaper bourbon. Decent single malt Scotch is out of sight these days.

Anonymous said...

One of the surprising things I learned when I was doing the research for my dissertation was how much attention regional agricultural newspapers gave to international affairs and tariffs. This is the late 1880s-1905 or so, and in publications from Ft. Worth and San Antonio. Popular history suggests that cattlemen were isolated and didn't pay much attention to world events. Not true at all. One paper included reports from the Reichstag deliberations on beef tariffs and updates on sailings of cattle ships from Argentina to Britain.

One gentleman down near San Angelo led the battles against retaliatory tariffs that might have damaged wool exports. He happened to be a gentleman of color and a former Buffalo Soldier. As far as the sheepmen and ranchers who backed his efforts were concerned, he was a businessman first and anything else came a distant second.


Eric Blair said...

Yeah, the world has been pretty connected for a very long time.