US spirits industry reiterates pleas for tariff dispute de-escalation

13 August, 2020

The US government has announced that the existing 25% tariffs will remain on single malt Scotch for the foreseeable future.

The trade dispute began when the US imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium from the EU, causing the bloc to introduce a retaliatory tariff on American whiskey.

The US then added a 25% tariff on various European wines and spirits. Within spirits, it also applies to single malt whiskey from Northern Ireland, and liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK.  

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) recently revealed that American whiskey exports to the EU have decreased by a third since the trade dispute began in 2018.

After learning of the US Trade Representative decision to keep the tariff in place, DISCUS reiterated calls for a de-escalation of the dispute.

“We appreciate that USTR has decided not to further escalate tariffs on distilled spirits products, and we hope that this decision sets the stage for the US and EU to quickly find a path forward to resolve these longstanding trade disputes,” it said in a statement. 

“The US hospitality industry is facing its biggest challenges in decades.  Restaurants and bars on both sides of the Atlantic have been pummelled by the impact of COVID-19. Governments should be aiding in the recovery of restaurants and bars, not adding to their financial burden with tariffs on spirits products.

“The EU’s tariff on American Whiskey, now in place for over two years, is causing severe damage to U.S. exports and negatively impacting jobs in the U.S.

“Continuing tariffs on EU beverage alcohol products will only cause additional harm to hospitality businesses in cities and towns across the country that are already suffering, resulting in additional lost U.S. jobs during these uncertain economic times.

“The EU’s tariff on American Whiskey, now in place for over two years, is causing severe damage to U.S. exports and negatively impacting jobs in the U.S. 

“Continuing tariffs on EU beverage alcohol products will only cause additional harm to hospitality businesses in cities and towns across the country that are already suffering, resulting in additional lost U.S. jobs during these uncertain economic times.”

DISCUS added that a return to the 1994 zero-for-zero tariff agreement on both sides of the Atlantic would be instrumental to the spirits industry’s future success and job creation on both sides of the Atlantic.





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Nick Strangeway

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