Call to halt tax
MPs sign letter urging Trump to reverse tariff hike on whisky
Single malts face tariff hike this week
A cross-party group of Scottish MPs is calling on President Donald Trump to rethink a hike in import tariffs on Scotch whisky.
Distillers fear a planned 25% increase tax on imported single malt Scotch will see a 20% plunge in sales to the crucial US market.
Single malt exports to the US in 2018 were worth over £380 million, and the whisky industry supports 10,000 jobs in Scotland.
A letter to Woody Johnson, US Ambassador to the UK, requesting a meeting, has been written by East Lothian Labour MP Martin Whitfield and signed by 13 MPs from Labour, the SNP, the Conservatives and the LibDems.
It says: “We are seeking an urgent meeting to request that, in your position as US Ambassador, you would be willing to communicate these clear concerns to the US President.”
Mr Whitfield’s constituency includes the Glenkinchie distillery in East Lothian.
His letter notes that trade in spirits between the US and UK has been tariff-free for nearly 25 years and expresses concern that the Scotch Whisky industry has fallen victim to a wider trade dispute concerning the aerospace sector.
The proposed tariff increase, due to be implemented on Friday, will have a “devastating impact on the Scottish economy”, it says.
The full letter and signatories:
RE: US Import Tariffs & Scotch Whisky Industry
We the undersigned, are writing to request an urgent meeting regarding the proposed imposition of new US import tariffs on a range of products, notably Scotch Whisky.
As you will be aware, the United States is a critical market for the Scotch Whisky industry. The US is the single largest market for this sector and is responsible for 22% of our global exports, which is worth over £1bn at export value. The proposed tariff increases of 25% on single malt Scotch Whisky is projected to cause a 20% drop in exports to the US.
The proposed tariff increase will therefore have a devastating impact on the Scottish economy. Scotch Whisky accounts for 70% of Scotland’s food and drink exports and we are profoundly concerned that these tariff changes will impact the 10,000 jobs in Scotland the industry currently supports.
Over two thirds of these jobs are based in rural communities across Scotland and they provide vital investment across these local economies.
Trade in Spirits between the US and UK has been tariff-free for nearly 25 years, and we are deeply concerned that the Scotch Whisky industry has fallen victim to a wider trade dispute concerning the aerospace sector.
We believe this increase is not in the interests of American consumers who will experience price hikes, nor Scottish distilleries that will be affected by these changes.
These tariffs are set to be introduced on Friday 18 October and the Scotch Whisky industry is calling for an urgent delay to their implementation. A delay would allow more time to reach a negotiated settlement and would ensure all parties could act to de-escalate wider trade disputes between the European Union, the United Kingdom and United States.
We are seeking an urgent meeting to request that, in your position as US Ambassador, you would be willing to communicate these clear concerns to the US President.
Martin Whitfield MP
Lesley Laird MP
Ian Murray MP
Ged Killen MP
Paul Sweeney MP
Danielle Rowley MP
Christopher Stephens MP
Christine Jardine MP
Stephen Kerr MP
Bill Grant MP
Hugh Gaffney MP
Deirdre Brock MP
Philippa Whitford MP