UK: Scotch whisky distillers toast end to high U.S. tariffs

Scotch whisky distillers have toasted the end to high U.S. tariffsafter the United States agreed to suspend tariffs on Thursday. The accord will witness disciplinary taxes on Scotch whisky and other goods likeolive oil and cheese, implemented as a result of a 17-year-old trade dispute over illegal subsidies for plane makers Boeing and Airbus, remain suspended for five years.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump slapped a 25% tariff on single-malt Scotch whisky in 2019 as a tit-for-tat response after the European Union imposed tariffs worth USD 3 billion on US goods, including whiskey, motorcycles and denim. This was in turn a response to a tariff of the same size on EU steel and aluminum (, 24.4.2018)the US-Trump administration imposed unilaterally in March 2018.

The mutual tariffs on Bourbon and Scotch whisky weighed heavily on both sides. (, 29.6.2020) It is estimated that the Scotch Whisky sector alone lost more than GBP 600m (USD 836m) in exports.

"This is very good news for Scotch whisky," Karen Betts, the association's chief executive, said. "This deal removes the threat of tariffs being reimposed on Scotch whisky next month and enables distillers to focus on recovering exports to our largest and most valuable export market."

In March 2021, the new U.S. Biden administration already suspended punitive dutieson Scotch whisky and other products relating to the Airbus-Boeing trade dispute for a four-month period (, 5.3.2021) The new agreement now extends this period to 5 years. “Given, however, that this deal suspends tariffs rather than fully resolving the underlying dispute, what’s critical now is that the governments and aerospace companies on both sides stick to their commitments and work with one another constructively,” said Betts. “I want to note too that American whiskies remain subject to tariffs on entry into the UK and EU as a result of a separate dispute on steel and aluminium, and we hope these tariffs can also be resolved quickly,” she added.

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