Tariffs cost US beverage industry $1.4 Billion


Nearly four years since the Section 232 tariffs on aluminum took effect, the US beverage industry has paid more than $1.4 billion in tariffs.

New research shows that the tariffs have driven up the price of aluminum because rolling mills and smelters are including the tariffs in their prices – regardless of whether the metal is subject to Section 232 tariffs. That means US beer and beverage companies, along with many other users of aluminium, are being charged a higher price for the metal, driving up the cost of doing business in the US and making consumer goods more expensive.

“With the cost of gas and groceries at record highs, American families and businesses are feeling the strain under the high costs of living. This new research shows the tariffs on aluminum continue to push up prices on American consumers and businesses,” said Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute. “The fastest way to alleviate these high prices on American businesses and families is to repeal the tariffs.”

The research conducted on behalf of the Beer Institute by Harbor Aluminum, an independent authority on the aluminium industry and its markets, found that between the implementation of Section 232 aluminium tariffs on March 23, 2018, and Feb 28, 2022, the US beverage industry paid $1.416 billion in Section 232 tariffs on 7.1 million metric tons of aluminium.

Of that amount, only $111 million (8%) went to the US Treasury. Harbor Aluminum estimates US rolling mills, US smelters and Canadian smelters received $1.305 billion (92%) of the total by charging end-users – such as US brewers – a tariff-burdened price regardless of whether the metal was meant to be tariffed based on its content or origin. 

Harbor Aluminum also estimated that in 2021 alone, the US beverage industry paid $463 million in Section 232 tariffs. Of that $463 million, only $15 million (3 percent) went to the U.S. Treasury, while $448 million (97%) went to U.S. rolling mills, US smelters and Canadian smelters.

There are more than 13,300 permitted breweries in the United States, supporting more than two million American jobs. Imported primary aluminum and can sheet are critical to the US beer industry as more than 74% of all beer produced in the US is packaged in aluminum cans and bottles. In 2020, brewers bought more than 41 billion aluminium cans and bottles, making aluminum the single largest input cost in American beer manufacturing.

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