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Beer makers aren't happy with Trump's planned aluminum import tariff

Trump wants to impose a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.
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What's happening?

President Trump on Thursday announced plans to impose trade tariffs on imports of foreign-made steel and aluminum.

The tariff for steel imports would be 25 percent and for aluminum 10 percent, with Trump saying he wants to take the steps to protect American industry.

The Washington Post reports Trump made the announcement despite opposition from his own advisers and Republicans in Congress.

It caused the Dow Jones to drop by around 2 percent at one point on Thursday.

Why aren't beer companies happy?

Because they use aluminum, of course, in the cans and bottles they sell around the country.

The move has been condemned by The Beer Institute, which called for materials used to make cans and bottles to be excluded from the tariff – noting that biggest importer of aluminum to the U.S. is Canada – an ally – and not a rival like China (which sends a lot of steel).

"According to third-party analyses, this 10% tariff will create a new $347.7 million tax on America's beverage industry, including brewers and beer importers, and result in the loss of 20,291 American jobs," it said.


– Northeast Minneapolis brewery closes abruptly.

Its sentiment was echoed by St. Paul-based Summit Brewing, even though it wouldn't be immediately impacted by such a tariff.

"We share the concerns expressed today by the Beer Institute," President Mark Stutrud told GoMN. "Because we contract out as far as 3–5 years for our packaging materials, however, we are somewhat shielded from price volatility within the next 24 months. 

"We’re fortunate, too, to operate both a canning line and a bottling line — we can keep delivering great beer to people in either package."

International brand Miller Coors tweeted its opposition as well, agreeing that it would lead to layoffs across the industry and noting that there's simply not enough U.S. based supply to replace the imports.

What could the other side effects be?

Economist Christine McDaniel told the Washington Post that with U.S. production of steel, as well, not enough to fulfill all the demand in the U.S., rising costs will be inevitable for consumers and businesses.

The cost of building construction, cars, and canned products – including, yes, beer – would be among those like to rise, MPR reports.

It could have a potentially beneficial impact for Minnesota's Iron Range though, which has suffered from cheap, Chinese over-supply and would become more competitive should a 25 percent tariff be implemented.

But on the flip side, a trade war could also be bad news for Minnesota's farmers should China retaliate, given it's America's largest export market for soybeans, the Faribault Daily News reports.

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