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Senators Stand Up For Canned Beverages In Looming Aluminum Trade War

Eight senators have asked the Trump administration to exclude the type of aluminum used for beer and canned beverages when considering what actions to take in the looming aluminum trade dispute.

In a letter sent Monday, the bipartisan group of senators asked the administration to “exempt rolled can sheet, as well as the primary aluminum and ingot milled into rolled can sheet, food and beverage cans, bottles, lids, and closures, from the investigation” that President Donald Trump initiated in an executive order April 26.

Food and beverage companies are concerned that their business costs will increase as a result of the investigation into whether the U.S. should impose tariffs to encourage domestic production of high-grade aluminum used in defense equipment. (RELATED: Trump Begins Investigation Of Aluminum Imports)

The letter, signed by six Republicans and two Democrats, asks Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to not consider lower-grade aluminum, known as rolled can sheet, or other simple aluminum products in the investigation.

The Department of Commerce’s aluminum investigation could result in tariffs or other trade actions against both China and Canada, the U.S.’ two largest aluminum suppliers, which could then drive up prices on food products, particularly cans of beer.

While the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada on aluminum “due to a lack of domestic availability,” the imposing tariffs on imports “could increase consumer prices, add hundreds of millions in costs for companies in the beverage industry, and potentially affect American manufacturing jobs in industries that rely on these products,” the senators wrote.

The potential effects on the beer industry partially led Colorado’s two senators — Republican Cory Gardner and Democrat Michael Bennet — to urge the administration to exempt some aluminum from the review. Colorado has been leading the way in the canned craft beer market, and in 2016 sold 45 percent of its craft beer products in cans rather than bottles.

“Colorado is a major beer-producing state and the results of this investigation could have an enormous impact on Colorado’s beer industry,” Gardner’s office said in a press release.

The letter is signed by every senator from Georgia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Colorado. Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Bennet joined the other Republicans.

“If there are duties on aluminum coming to this country, it will obviously get passed on to us and the customer,” Tim Weiner, senior commodity risk manager at Molson Coors Brewing Co. and the MillerCoors LLC, said earlier this month. “Our prices will go up.”

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