Just like the tax bill that preceded it, the Trump Administration's latest economic policy could have a significant impact on the beer industry. President Trump announced tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminum, potentially starting next week. The idea is, the tariffs will reduce cheap steel imports from countries like China and encourage more domestic metal production, which will create more jobs. Trump prefaced today's announcement with a morning tweet:
Of course, aluminum cans have always been a key beer storage device, but the cans have become more attractive to the craft beer industry in recent years due to the can's elimination of light pollution, which can be highly detrimental to craft beer. According to craft beer trade group The Brewers Association, the aluminum tariff could increase the cost of a case of cans by nearly a quarter. Trump is attempting to unilaterally impose these tariffs under "national security concerns" despite opposition from trade groups from various industries (including the BA), numerous U.S. businesses, and members of Congress, including members of his own party. Opponents say these tariffs will have unintended consequences, including price increases in products across many industries, as well as layoffs.
MillerCoors summed up the beer industry's issues well with the following statement on Twitter:
Now, there is likely a fair chance these tariffs will not go through in their current form, or at least not survive long-term. Many in Trump's own administration have advocated for more targeted tariffs, the Brewers Association and others have questioned Trump's "national security" angle (especially in regards to aluminum imports), and the staunch Congressional and business opposition likely means Trump will be in for a fight on this issue in the coming days and weeks.
UPDATE, 3/2/18, 8:09am: So, according to news reports, President Trump's tariff announcements came as a bit of a surprise to the White House staff, who spent the rest of the day walking Trump's comments back, forward, and possibly even sideways. The policy does want to seem to be enacted by this administration, but it seems like the timing and exact numbers could still be in the air a bit. Again, it might be up to the groups listed above to work to get the policy modified. An additional item that may influence this policy are the threats of trade wars from other countries, where they tax U.S. exports into their countries in retaliation of the steel and aluminum taxes.