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US and EU agree to lift tariffs on Kentucky Bourbon

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Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT
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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - World leaders gathered in Rome the last weekend of October for the first G20 Summit since 2019.

United States and European Union officials were able to reach an agreement this weekend to end their tariff rift.

Aluminum and steel were among the biggest products to see their tariffs lifted.

The biggest change for Kentucky businesses was the removal of tariffs on Kentucky Bourbon.

“I think it’s just a big win for the bourbon industry,” Jacob Call said, the master distiller at Green River Distilling Company in Owensboro. “The bourbon industry in Kentucky has 20,000 jobs. It’s an $8 billion industry and it’s great for the state.”

Governor Andy Beshear thanked the Biden Administration in a tweet Sunday for putting an end to the tariffs.

“These things were retaliatory,” Beshear said of the tariffs in his Monday Team Kentucky press conference. “They were hitting bourbon harder than any where else because we can’t move production off shore like other companies were able to do. The deal yesterday is going to prevent a catastrophic 50 percent tariff from going into effect.”

Beshear also said that the tariffs were costing distillers millions of dollars a year.

Call says that the cost of international business restricted what Green River was able to export.

“We ship 6,000 gallon tankers of bourbon overseas quite often, so the tariffs were restrictive, reduced some of that business for us.”

He says that although the majority of their business is domestic, this will benefit the Green River Distilling Company and all other Kentucky distilleries.

The tariffs were set to increase from 25 percent to 50 percent on Dec. 1, before the deal was reached.

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