The UK is lifting the 25% tariffs on American whiskey effective June 1. The tariffs stem from a larger dispute over steel and aluminum tariffs between the two countries which began in June 2018. Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) applauded the move. In statement dated March 22, the trade association said since the imposition of the retaliatory tariffs, U.S. exports to the UK, its fourth-largest market, have declined by 42%, from $150 million to $88 million (2018-2021).
“Distillers throughout the United States are cheering the end of this long tariff nightmare,” said Chris Swonger, President & CEO, DISCUS. “We toast the Biden administration for its resolve in bringing a stop to these punitive tariffs on American whiskeys and securing the return to duty-free trade in spirits across the Atlantic. “With the removal of the UK’s debilitating retaliatory tariffs on American Whiskey exports, U.S. distillers are ready to fire up the stills and resume sharing the special taste, heritage and quality of America’s native spirit with our UK consumers.
“From day one, the Biden administration made it a priority to reset the relationship with the EU and UK, two of our most important allies and trading partners. The successful resolution of two separate and complicated trade disputes that saddled distilled spirits on both sides of the Atlantic with tariffs could not have been possible without the strong leadership of Secretary Raimondo, Ambassador Tai and their teams at the Departments of Commerce and Office of the United States Trade Representative,” he said.
In October 2021, the U.S. and the EU announced an agreement to suspend for two-years the EU’s 25% retaliatory tariff on American Whiskeys in the steel-aluminum dispute. In June 2021, the U.S. reached separate agreements with the EU and UK in the WTO Boeing-Airbus disputes to suspend tariffs for five years on U.S. rum, brandy and vodka, Single Malt Scotch, Single Malt Irish Whisky from Northern Ireland, liqueurs and cordials from the UK, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Spain, and certain Cognacs and other grape brandies from France and Germany.
“We also appreciate the longstanding support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Secretary Vilsack for highlighting the negative impact retaliatory tariffs have on value-added agriculture exports, including distilled spirits. American Whiskey producers have a close relationship with their farmer partners who are also hailing an end to these devastating tariffs,” said Swonger.