Trump's massive new tariffs could have distressing consequences for your beer purchases

  • President Donald Trump on Thursday announced new restrictions on imports of aluminium.
  • Trade associations representing beer companies and brewers warn that the restrictions could increase the cost of brewing and packaging beer.
  • This, in turn, could lead to price increases for beer consumers in the US.

President Donald Trump on Thursday announced a new trade policy that, among other consequences, could cause the price of your beer to jump.

Trump announced new tariffs – taxes on imports – of 25% on foreign steel and 10% on aluminium.

While a new tax on importing aluminium would have widespread economic effects, one of the those consequences would likely include an increase in the cost of producing beer – and in turn a bump in the end product price. The Beer Institute, a national trade association, blasted recommendations for new tariffs from the Commerce Department when they were released in February.

“If the president accepts any of the recommendations from the Commerce Department’s report on aluminium imports, it will dramatically increase the cost of aluminium in the US and put at risk American jobs in the beer industry, as well other industries that are users of aluminium,” the institute said in a statement.

MillerCoors, one of the largest US beer producers, expressed their opposition to the decision by Trump via Twitter.

“Like most brewers, we are selling an increasing amount of our beers in aluminium cans, and this action will cause aluminium prices to rise,” the brewer said Thursday. “It is likely to lead to job losses across the beer industry. We buy as much domestic can sheet aluminium as is available, however, there simply isn’t enough supply to satisfy the demands of American beverage makers like us. American workers and American consumers will suffer as a result of this misguided tariff.”

The Commerce Department recommended a tariff of 7.7% on all aluminium imports, a 23.6% tariff on imports of the metal from 12 specific countries, or a quota (a limit on the amount of a good imported from a specific country) on all aluminium imports.

The measures are designed to encourage more aluminium production in the US. But an earlier letter from the Beer Institute, Heineken USA, the Coca-Cola Company, the National Association of Beverage Importers, the Molson Coors Brewing Company, and others warned about the potential costs of the increase to the beer companies.

“A tariff or quota will immediately disadvantage these domestic businesses since foreign competitors would have the advantage of not paying an artificially inflated raw cost,” the letter read. “We estimate a tariff of 10% on this aluminium would cost beer and beverage producers $US256.3 million.”

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, many local brewers and beverage associations said increased tariffs could lead to a price bump.

“Even a small tariff will result in greater uncertainty about prices, supply, financing and would dramatically curtail investment and hiring in the United States,” Robert Budway, the Can Manufacturers Institute president, said in a statement.

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