U.S.-China trade war has hurt sectors as diverse as American whiskey and appliances

The trade war hurt U.S. whiskey exports, putting a damper on an otherwise upbeat 2018, according to data from the Distilled Spirits Council.

“Globally during the first six months of 2018, U.S. exports of American whiskeys were growing at 28% (Jan-Jun: $595 million),” the Council wrote. “Following the imposition of the retaliatory tariffs, these exports decreased 8.2 % (Jul-Nov: $526 million) compared to the same period in 2017 (July-Nov.).”

Overall, U.S. spirits had a “record” year, with $1.7 billion in exports through November. The E.U. is the biggest market, with exports totaling $363 million from January through June. But from July to November, exports slipped to $312 million.

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Spirit supplier sales totaled $27.5 billion for the year. American whiskey was the biggest driver of sales growth in the high-end and super premium spirits categories, up 6.6% to $3.6 billion. Tequila was up 10.2% to $3.0 billion, cognac was up 14.2% to $1.8 billion, and Irish whiskey increased 12% to $1.0 billion. Spirits gained market share versus beer in 2018, to 37.4% of the total alcohol market.

The trade war has also taken a toll on imports to the U.S. from China, with the number of appliances entering the country dropping sharply in January, according to data from Panjiva, a global supply chain intelligence group.

The year-over-year decline in refrigerator imports was 23.9% in January, while vacuum cleaners fell 14.9% for the period. Both items began to incur 10% duties in September.

The steep declines are part of declines across a number of categories after a surge in December. Overall, imports to the U.S. were up 22.6% in December, and up an average of 14% for the fourth quarter of 2018. Imports from China were down 1.5% in January.

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“Among the major shippers of household appliances (including refrigerators and vacuums) both Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have slashed their shipments in January with an 85.7% and 97.0% drop respectively,” the Panjiva report said.

The SPDR S&P Retail ETF XRT, +1.65%   is down 0.1% for the last year while the S&P 500 index SPX, +1.29%  has gained 3.1% for the period.

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