"With a share of more than 30 percent of our non-European exports, the United States is the first export destination, with more than a billion liter of beer and a value of more than a billion euros. It is twice as much as our exports to China ... The tariffs announced by the US, as high as 100 percent, are a surprise. The US had previously considered beer with no-alcohol content for new tariffs, but it is unprecedented on this scale, and it would really dry up most exports", Bergeron said.
The secretary-general added that small European breweries were especially at risk of being hit hard by the tariffs.
"These small craftsmen could actually develop primarily through sales to the US, very keen on drinking European special, less-known breweries. The large groups have production units in the US, so they would not be affected. But for the numerous small and medium-sized enterprises of the sector, this would be a disaster", Bergeron noted.
According to the official, the industry will be hit hardest in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and France if the US proceeds with the tariffs.
Bergeron added that it was too soon to make any official statements at this point, but "let’s hope this is only posturing in view of the World Trade Organization discussions, and that a solution will be found".
On Tuesday, the US Trade Representative published a list of 30 products, including olives, chocolate, gin, and beer, that could be subjected to 100 percent tariffs on $3.1 billion worth of European goods that the US imports from France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The announcement is another act of the long-standing trans-Atlantic trade drama over aircraft subsidies. The US has not yet fully taken advantage of its right to levy as much as 100 percent duties on $7.5 billion of European goods, which were allowed by the World Trade Organization due to the EU's unfair Airbus subsidies.
The Trump administration has consistently targeted the WTO for what it calls unfair trade practices, despite the world trade body ruling in favour of the United States last year in a dispute brought by American planemaker Boeing against its European rival Airbus that opened the door for billions of dollars of US tariffs on a multitude of EU products.