Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

SWA reiterates urgency of resolving transatlantic trade dispute as US tariff remains

Published:  17 February, 2020

The Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) has called on the EU, US and UK to "redouble their efforts" to resolve transatlantic trade disputes quickly to enable Scotch and American whiskies to revert to tariff-free trading.

The call follows the United States Trade Representative tariff notification, which maintains the 25% tariff on single malt Scotch whisky and Scotch whisky liqueurs that has been in place since 18 October last year. 

“Deeply disappointed” that the 25% tariff on exports of single malt Scotch whisky and liqueurs to the US remained in place, chief executive of the SWA Karen Betts said: “This tariff has now been in place for four months and is hitting Scotch whisky producers hard, particularly small distilleries.”  

Based on a “significant" drop already seen in exports following the tariff, the SWA believed the Scotch whisky industry could be facing at least £100m in lost exports over a year, she added.

“The EU, US and UK must now redouble their efforts to resolve transatlantic trade disputes quickly, so that Scotch and American whiskies can return to the tariff-free trade from which we have benefitted for more than 20 years. It cannot be right that our industry is continuing to pay the price of trade disputes that have nothing to do with our sector,” she said.

It was critical to the SWA that UK-US trade talks now “prioritise the urgent, early removal of all tariffs on whiskies,” she added.

“As a first step, we welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment that the UK government will remove EU tariffs on US whiskey as soon as possible now that the UK has left the EU. The UK government must work to ensure that the US reciprocates.” 

Closer to home, the UK and Scottish governments must now act “without delay to mitigate the impact that tariffs are having on Scotch whisky businesses across Scotland”, she added.

“While it will not compensate for losses in the US, a cut to excise duty on spirits in the March Budget would go some way to helping Scotch whisky businesses strengthen their presence in the UK to counter-balance losses in the US.”

Exports of Scotch whisky hit record highs last year both by value and volume, but while the US remained the Scotch whisky industry’s most valuable market in 2019 - up 2.7% to £1.07bn, export volume fell by 7%, with a marked difference in the final quarter of the year when exports to the US fell 25% following the introduction of the 25% tariff.