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Food firm's relief

Walkers reveals US tariff could have cost 250 jobs

Walkers: loved by the Americans

One of Scotland’s biggest food exporters has revealed that 250 jobs could have been lost if the US Government had not lifted its 25% tariff.

Jim Walker, joint managing director of Speyside-based Walkers Shortbread, said the impact of the levy would have had a “huge effect” on a small community with few other employment opportunities.

Walkers’ shortbread got caught up in a tariff trade war between the US and the EU, which saw the levy hiked on a range of Scottish goods including Scotch single malt whisky and cashmere.

The Office of the US Trade Representative announced yesterday that it will modify tariffs on the EU, and remove it from shortbread, but the 25% levy on many European spirits imposed last October will remain in place.

While the Scotch Whisky Association was disappointed with the decision and called on the UK government to step up pressure on Washington, Mr Walker tonight expressed his relief.

“Walkers Shortbread, a family company based in the Highlands of Scotland was one of the companies most badly hit by the US tariffs, and had requested that these should be removed immediately, especially as the UK is no longer part of the European Union,” he said.

“Walkers is the largest private employer in the area and the tariffs would have had a huge effect on a very small community where there is limited alternative employment. More than 250 jobs in Scotland were at risk because of the tariffs, as well as almost 50 jobs at the US subsidiary of Walkers.

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“Walkers Shortbread is loved by Americans and Walkers has become the largest British exporter of shortbread and sweet biscuits to the American market. 

“Walkers believe we were an innocent bystander in a trade war which had no connection to our industry.  We hope that pressure will continue to be applied on behalf of fine Scottish products such as whisky and cashmere.

“These tariffs would have come at a time which is already incredibly difficult because of the coronavirus epidemic and the UK’s departure from the European Union.”

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