While the United States has ceased escalating its trade war with China for the moment, the Trump Administration and the European Union are preparing to up the ante in their disputes.
According to Reuters, several European commodities are slated to be hit with new tariffs, including Scotch whiskey.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office released a list of additional products – including olives, Italian cheese and Scotch whiskey – that could be hit with tariffs, on top of products worth $21 billion that were announced in April.
USTR said it was adding 89 tariff sub-categories to its initial list, including a variety of metals, in response to public comments, but gave no further explanation. Over 40 individuals testified about products included on the initial list at a public hearing on May 15 and 16.
The United States and the EU have threatened to impose billions of dollars of tit-for-tat tariffs on planes, tractors and food in a nearly 15-year dispute at the World Trade Organization over aircraft subsidies given to U.S. planemaker Boeing Co (BA.N) and its European rival, Airbus SE (AIR.PA).
This is simply unacceptable. Scotch is good, tariffs (which are essentially taxes that get passed on to the consumer) are bad.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States criticized the Trump administration’s latest tariff threats and warned they would jeopardize U.S. jobs and hurt consumers.
“We strongly oppose the inclusion of distilled products in the proposed retaliation list,” said spokeswoman Lisa Hawkins.
“U.S. companies – from farmers to suppliers to retailers – are already being negatively impacted by the imposition of retaliatory tariffs by key trading partners on certain U.S. distilled spirits … and these additional tariffs will only inflict further harm,” she said.
The U.S. has announced it will hold a hearing in August on the new products that could be added to the tariff lists. However, the Trump Administration and industry officials are holding a meeting at the White House today in response. With any luck, we’ll see a positive response from the White House when it’s all said and done, particularly where the Scotch is concerned.
And I’m not sorry when I attack Trump over this, folks. This is the line. I am running low on my stock of Aberlour A’bunadh, and if it gets any pricier I’ll be cut off from one of the few pleasures life can still provide (I’m only being slightly overdramatic here – after all, in my day job I’m a teacher and this is how I cope).
In all seriousness, though, I have yet to really understand the strategy in these trade conflicts. Punitive tariffs are actually only punitive on consumers, not the countries of origin. They truly are taxes on consumers more than anything else, and at a time when the economy is strong, any new tax on consumers – particularly the middle class, who purchase a lot (not necessarily the Scotch and Italian cheese, but other basic goods) up the products that get slammed hardest by the tariffs.
In all honesty, the trade wars should – at best – have been a second-term strategy (although preferably not started at all). I don’t care if you can say President Trump is “winning” these wars. The fact that our prices are going up when the economy is otherwise making living easier is ill-advised.