Nelson warns how trade war could impact Jacksonville Anheuser-Busch facilities

Florida senator meets with executives of Budweiser brewer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A trade war between the United States and China could cause prices on common goods to go up, according to many analysts and lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Nelson, D-Florida, met with executives of the Anheuser-Busch facility in Jacksonville on Monday, telling them he fears serious consequences from the Trump administration's tariffs on steel and aluminum.

President Donald Trump is imposing a 25 percent tax on steel coming into the U.S., and a 10 percent tax on aluminum in hopes of boosting the American metal industry.

On Monday, the Chinese government retaliated with tariffs on 128 different types of good coming from the U.S.

According to Nelson, the taxes could have a big impact in Northwest Florida.

Jacksonville has two Anheuser-Busch facilities: One on the city's Northside where beer is brewed, and the second on the Westside where cans are made. 

Both facilities are busy operations that employ 800 people in the River City, and 920 across the state. They produce about 3.3 billion bottles and cans of beer every year, supplying much of the Southeast.

When Nelson met Monday afternoon with executives of the Budweiser brewer and toured their facility, he talked with managers about the potential impacts of a "trade war."

"It's going to raise their cost to business, which means they're going to raise their price of beer," Nelson said. "Which means the consumers, ultimately, got to pay."

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U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson tours Anheuser-Busch factory on Jacksonville's Northside Monday afternoon.

IMAGES: Behind-the-scenes look at Nelson’s tour of Budweiser brewery

Anheuser-Busch Jacksonville General Manager Craig Tomeo said, "Any increase in cost is a potential risk for the consumer."

Manufacturers across the country are concerned the higher cost of goods could lead to loss of jobs. But Trump said it will help the struggling American steel and aluminum industry. 

"Steel is steel," Trump said. "If you don't have steel, you don't have a country."

But with China and other countries firing back with taxes on American goods, Nelson thinks it’s a lose-lose.

"Their competition is going to suddenly raise the prices. A trade war ultimately runs into a recession, which was part of the reason going in to the depression back in the 1930s," Nelson said. "So you always have to worry about that."

Local Budweiser managers said they're willing to come to the table for fair solutions that are good for both the manufacturers and the consumers.

"Hopefully, we are going to be able to protect the jobs in the beer industry and specifically for our brewery here in Jacksonville," Tomeo said.

Nelson said, "That means coming together in a bipartisan way, instead of framing it through just because of one part of the government wants to act macho."

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