Tariffs take toll on whiskey exports in last half of 2018

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A spirits industry group says retaliatory tariffs caused a sharp downturn in American whiskey exports in the last half of 2018 as distillers started feeling the pain from global trade disputes.

Exports gyrated last year as the industry braced for tariffs in some key overseas markets.

The Distilled Spirits Council said Tuesday that American whiskey exports to the European Union — the industry's biggest export market — fell by 8.7 percent from July through November of last year, compared to the same period in 2017.

In the first half of 2018, whiskey exports to the EU surged by 33 percent.

Larger distillers stockpiled supplies for a short-term cushion against tariffs that amount to a tax.

Global American whiskey exports grew by 28 percent in the first half of 2018, then fell by 8.2 percent from July to November.

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