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US eases back on salmon tariffs but single malts get no relief

Salmon farm (SEPA)

Relieved: salmon producers

Scottish salmon and blended Scotch whisky have escaped a new round of import tariffs imposed by the US but single malts will continue to be hit.

Goods traded between Scotland and the US have been caught up in a dispute between Washington and the EU over subsidies to aircraft makers with the US imposing a higher tariff on Airbus and aeroplane parts from Europe.

While the UK has now left the EU, current rules on trade will continue during the transition period until the start of 2021 while new trading relationships are negotiated.

The US has pulled back on including salmon and blended Scotch in the new tariff regime, but single malt Scotch and liqueur producers will continue to suffer a 25% hike. The Scotch Whisky Association said it was “deeply disappointed” and has previously warned that it will cost the industry up to £100m in lost sales.

Tariffs will also be retained on cashmere jumpers from Scotland and British “sweet biscuits”, of which the biggest export is Scottish shortbread.

Hamish Macdonell, director of strategic engagement for the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) said: “We are relieved that our farmers will be able to continue sending top quality Scottish salmon to the USA without any new barriers in their way.

“As the recently published export statistics show, the USA is a very important market for Scottish salmon with sales in 2019 valued at £179 million.  Most of our exports to the USA are fresh, chilled whole salmon but there is an increase in sales of salmon fillets – worth an additional £66 million which would have been hit by tariffs.”

The EU, US and UK must now redouble their efforts to resolve transatlantic trade disputes quickly

– Karen Betts, SWA

Chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association Karen Betts said: “We’re deeply disappointed that a 25% tariff remains in place on exports of single malt Scotch whisky and liqueurs to the United States.

“The EU, US and UK must now redouble their efforts to resolve transatlantic trade disputes quickly.”

The UK Government said it is working closely with the US, EU and European partners to support a negotiated settlement.

Some types of meat and dairy produce from the European Union and UK have also faced tariffs since 15 October, along with books, tools and some shellfish and fruit.

Only two small changes have been made to the list of goods covered by the US tariffs which began in October; kitchen knives from France and Germany have been added, but prune juice has been removed.

The action by the office of the US Trade Representative is targeted mainly at the countries where Airbus is built – primarily the UK, France, Germany and Spain.

A statement issued by Washington said: “The United States remains open to a negotiated settlement that addresses current and future subsidies to Airbus provided by the EU and certain current and former member states.”

It said it had considered putting up the tariff rate as high as 100%, but after receiving 26,000 responses to a consultation begun in mid-December, it decided not to do so.

However, there was a warning in Friday’s statement of further escalation by Washington if there is retaliation against the higher aircraft tariff by the European Union.



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