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levy lifted

Whisky sector hails US suspension of tariffs

Karen Betts SWA

Karen Betts: fabulous news

US trade authorities have agreed to a four-month suspension of tariffs imposed on UK goods including single malt whiskies and cashmere.

The levy was imposed at the end of 2019 in retaliation to subsidies given by the EU to the aircraft maker Airbus. The suspension also covers items such as cheese, pork and machinery.

It follows a unilateral move by the UK Department for International Trade to drop its tariffs on some US goods. The suspension takes effect from today.

Chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association said Karen Betts said it was a huge relief to the industry.

“This is fabulous news, and our industry is delighted,” she said. “The tariff on Single Malt Scotch Whisky exports to the US has been doing real damage to Scotch Whisky in the 16 months it has been in place, with exports to the US falling by 35%, costing companies over half a billion pounds.


“So today, everyone in our industry – from small companies to large – is breathing a sigh of relief.

“So today, everyone in our industry – from small companies to large – is breathing a sigh of relief.  Suspending these tariffs – stemming from a transatlantic trade dispute that had nothing to do with us – and a return to tariff-free trade with the US means livelihoods and communities across Scotland will be protected. 

“It means that companies can now really focus on recovery – on building back the American market as well as on building back global exports hit by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I want to pay tribute in particular to the hard work of Liz Truss, International Trade Secretary, and her team.  Her commitment to finding a resolution of this issue, alongside Kwasi Kwarteng, Business Secretary, has been very encouraging through what has been a particularly difficult period for our industry.  Distillers will certainly be raising a dram to her tonight.

“The UK government and the new US administration will now need to work hard on finding a negotiated settlement to this long-running aerospace dispute.  We hope too that both governments will be able to find a rapid, pragmatic solution to the steel and aluminium dispute which still impacts US whiskey exports to the UK.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross described the move as a ‘major step forward’ in ending the long-standing dispute.

The period of suspension will be used to hopefully reach a permanent end to the products being hit by tariffs of 25%,” said Mr Ross who has lobbied the UK Government to push for an end for the tariffs which he says have been ‘hugely damaging’ for iconic brands and products across Scotland, including in his own constituency of Moray. The Scotch Whisky industry supports up to 50,000 jobs in Scotland.

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