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

WSTA calls for return of ‘zero for zero' Bourbon tariffs while warning about wine duties

Published:  07 July, 2021

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has submitted a response to the government’s consultation on damaging US tariffs, calling for the swift removal of tariffs on US whiskies.

Since June 2018, Bourbon and US whiskies have been subject to an additional tariff of 25%, ending 25 years of tariff-free trade in whiskies between the UK and the US.  

The WSTA is calling for a return to the historic ‘zero for zero’ agreement between the US and EU that began in the mid-90s. 

The decision to impose a tariff on US whiskies, initially taken by the EU, has had “seismic impact on our wine and spirit industry, and has resulted in huge declines in trade with our most significant trade partner”, said the WSTA.

Whilst the annual value of US whiskey imports to the UK has halved since 2017, UK importers, the hospitality sector and in turn, UK Bourbon fans have paid an extra £55m in retaliatory tariffs since duties came into effect, according to the trade body.

Moreover, the WSTA has also warned the government about the perils of expanding the punishing tariff regime and targeting wine as part of their trade strategy. 

In total, US wines make up approximately one in 10 bottles of wine on the UK market, but the ratio of US bulk imports to overall wine imports is far higher at 22%, it stated.  

With “significant wine bottling plants” in Bristol, Cheshire, Durham, Fermanagh, Manchester and Norfolk supporting hundreds of direct UK bottling jobs, a new tariff on US wines would lead to job losses, a “significant fall in Exchequer revenue and, ultimately, hurt UK wine consumers", said the WSTA. 

“This government is a strong proponent of free trade around the world,” said CEO Miles Beale.

“The next step to take is to remove US wines and spirits from all current and future trade disputes. US whiskies have paid more than their fair share of tariff, and in a year when the hospitality industry has seen significant closures, it’s time we got back to trade and not tariffs with our close friends across the pond. 

“The WSTA supports the removal of tariffs on all wines and spirits with immediate effect.”  

The call follows the Bourbon Alliance submitting a letter to the UK Department of International Trade yesterday, outlining the negative impacts the retaliatory 25% tariff on Bourbon and other American whiskeys are having on the UK’s hospitality sector, calling for their immediate removal. 

Last month, the Brussels-based CEEV (Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins) and Wine Institute of California applauded a strong show of support for Transatlantic wine trade following a statement on the US-EU wine trade relationship, signed jointly by 85 members of the US Congress and members of the European Parliament, calling for the removal of all tariffs on wine traded between the two markets.