USA: Trump’s call for tariffs on aluminum alarms US beer industry

US President Donald Trump’s intention to restrict soaring imports of steel and aluminum to fight the US trade deficit is alarming officials of the American beer industry, which heavily depends on imports of aluminum for their beer cans. The US Commerce Department backed Trump’s opinion on Friday, saying that relying upon foreign sources for such critical materials poses a threat to national security.

Since Trump started his electoral campaign in 2015 he promised to eliminate the US trade deficit and bring back jobs to America’s working class. However, the trade e deficit rose 12 percent last year, reaching its highest mark in nine years. Reasons were higher oil prices but also higher consumer spendings on imported goods like cars, electronics and farm crops.

The US Commerce Department’s recommendation call for the president to take action under a rarely used provision of US trade law that authorises tariffs if imports endanger national security. While it is doubtful if aluminum beer cans are a focal point of national security, such a move would undoubtedly prompt legal challenges at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and retaliation by US trading partners.

Jim McGreevy, Beer Institute (BI) President and CEO released on Friday a statement saying "aluminum used to make beer cans is not a national security threat. Aluminum is critical to the well-being of America's beer industry as more than half of the beer produced annually is packed in aluminum cans or aluminum bottles. If the president accepts any of the recommendations from the Commerce Department's report on aluminum imports, it will dramatically increase the cost of aluminum in the U.S. and put at risk American jobs in the beer industry, as well other industries that are users of aluminum.”

"As more than 2.2 million American jobs depend on our nation's vibrant beer industry, we urge President Trump to consider the adverse impact trade restrictions on aluminum will have on American jobs before making his final decision. Adopting any of these recommendations would create uncertainty of supply for all users, limit growth, and put aluminum products like cansheet at risk," says the BI’s announcement.

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