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EU agrees to remove tariffs on American whiskey

The US and EU have agreed to remove retaliatory tariffs on American whiskey, three years after they were introduced.

Implemented in 2018, the removal of the tariffs, as part of the steel-aluminium dispute agreement, came just a few weeks before the 25 per cent tariff was set to double. 

Since the imposition of the tariffs, exports of Kentucky Bourbon to the UK and EU have halved, costing distillers, industry partners and farm families hundreds of millions of dollars.

Chris Swonger, CEO and president of the Distilled Spirits Council, said: "After three very difficult years of sagging American whiskey exports, the EU and US are back to a zero-for-zero tariff agreement on distilled spirits, which has been instrumental to our export success and job creation on both sides of the Atlantic since 1997.

"With the removal of these EU tariffs, we are energised and ready to ramp up our American whiskey promotions in the EU to re-introduce America's native spirits to EU consumers and resume a great American export success story.

"Cheers to the Biden administration for their dogged determination to reset trade relations with the EU and bring a stop to the needless damage being done to US businesses caught up in this trade war. The end of this long tariff nightmare is in sight for US distillers, who have struggled with the weight of the tariffs and the pandemic."

He added that he was keen to see the UK follow the EU's lead and lift its own tariffs on American whiskey.

This view was echoed by Miles Beale, CEO of the UK-based Wine and Spirits Trade Association, who said the UK should capitalise on the momentum of the agreement and suspend its own tariffs on American whiskey "without delay". "At a time when the economy is in recovery from continued lockdown, it is vital that we move to support our UK spirits importers and the hard-hit hospitality industry at pace," he said.

1 November 2021 - Phoebe Calver