The Distilled Spirits Council has made a huge push to save its members from crippling tariffs, most notably from the Chinese. The group includes a large number of liquor companies, such as the maker of Jack Daniels. The council offers membership fees for as little as $5,000, which means some well-off Americans can afford the fight to keep sales of the brand at current levels.
The council is controlled by several liquor giants, including Diageo, Bacardi and Brown-Forman, which owns Jack Daniels. It claims that U.S. sales of the products its members make support 1.4 million jobs and $150 billion in “economic activity.” It is not entirely clear how the council got to those numbers, but the industry is certainly large.
The most recent council complaint about tariffs is a potential 25% one that China may put on what it calls U.S. whiskey products. However, less may be at stake than the complaints indicate. The Distilled Spirits Council Senior Vice President of International Trade Christine LoCascio said:
Imposing 25 percent tariffs on U.S. whiskeys could put the brakes on an American export success story. American spirits exports to China have grown by almost 1,200 percent, from $959,000 in 2001 to $12.8 million in 2017.
That does not seem like much given the overall size of the industry. To join the council and join the fight, an Associate Membership costs $5,000. At this level of membership, among the benefits listed in the membership directory are access to proprietary data about the industry, special mailing labels and marketing opportunities.
However, the biggest benefit is to help keep the companies that make products like Jack Daniels financially healthy. For some people, that is enough all by itself.
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