Getty Images; Credit: Creativ Studio Heinemann

The move could raise beer prices and cost brewing industry jobs

March 02, 2018

In his ongoing quest to provoke China for some reason, President Donald Trump has signaled his desire to institute new tariffs on raw materials produced in foreign countries. And while the stock market has already voiced its displeasure with the idea of a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum (aluminium?), it could bring further bad news for beer drinkers.

That’s because aluminum is used to make beer cans. In fact, more than half of all beer produced in the US each year ends up in an aluminum vessel. Higher prices for that raw material might mean that the next 30 rack you pick up could put a bigger dent in your pocket.

But in addition to forcing companies to pass on costs to consumers, the tariff could have a negative impact on employment and the size of the industry as a whole. MillerCoors tweeted a statement that called the tariff “misguided”, saying it’s “likely to lead to job losses across the beer industry” given that American sheet aluminum supply can’t keep up with brewery demand.

That prediction is supported by The Beer Institute. In a press release, the trade group said third-party studies concluded the 10 percent tariff “will create a new $347.7 million tax on America’s beverage industry” and would “result in the loss of 20,291 American jobs.”

Somehow, the Trump administration’s argument for imposing the tariffs centers on national security concerns. But given the possibility of retaliatory tariffs that could lead to a trade war, it’s hard to understand how such a move would strengthen America’s position on the international stage. Such a move would undoubtedly stoke tensions with China, whose steady stream of cheap steel and aluminum destined for the US likely inspired the tariff in the first place.

The president won’t sign the trade measure until next week, so now’s the time to start hoarding as many cans as you can while they’re still cheap. After that, turning into an elitist beer snob who only drinks drafts or bottles will be the only viable solution.   

 

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