american whiskey

American whiskey could face 50% EU tariffs from January

24 October, 2023

Distillers are calling for the permanent removal of EU imposed “debilitating tariffs” on American whiskey, which are scheduled to be reimposed and doubled to 50% on 1 January 2024.

At the US-EU Presidential Summit held on October 20 in Washington DC, an agreement was not reached between President Biden and President von der Leyen to permanently remove or extend the suspension of the EU’s retaliatory tariffs on American whiskey.

A statement by president and chief executive of the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus), Chris Swonger, said: “American whiskey distillers were holding out hope that this summit would result in an agreement that ensured the tariffs on American Whiskey would not return in the new year.

“Since the EU suspended its 25% retaliatory tariff on American whiskeys in January 2022, American Whiskey exports to the EU have bounced back and surpassed pre-tariff levels. 

“The US distilled spirits industry has worked hard to regain its footing in the EU market and a return of the tariffs would bring this positive momentum to a screeching halt.

“We urge the Biden Administration to continue to prioritise the permanent removal of these debilitating tariffs. Until the threat of tariffs returning is fully removed, the uncertainty will continue to restrict our growth in our most important international market,” the statement concluded.

In June 2018, the EU imposed the 25% retaliatory tariff on American whiskeys in response to US Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminium.

The tariffs resulted in American whiskey exports to the EU - the largest American whiskey export market - to plunge 20%, from $552 million to $440 million (2018-2021).

In October 2022, the US and EU agreed to suspend the EU’s 25% retaliatory tariff on American whiskeys for two years starting 1 January 2022.

As a result of the tariff suspension, American whiskey exports to the EU increased by 29% in 2022 compared to 2021, reaching $566 million in 2022. This accounted for 44% of all American whiskey exports, surpassing the pre-tariff level of $518 million in 2017. 

Through July 2023, American whiskey exports to the EU are up nearly 91% as compared to the same period in 2022 (January-August).

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