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12 August 2020

SWA reaction to USTR tariff notification: Tariff remains at 25%

SWA reaction to USTR tariff notification: Tariff remains at 25%
The SWA's Chief Executive Karen Betts comments on the latest USTR tariff notification in response to the Airbus/Boeing dispute.

Commenting on 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 18th October, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association Karen Betts said:

“It’s deeply disappointing to see that the 25% tariff on Single Malt Scotch Whisky exports to the US has been retained by the US government.  The tariff is inflicting huge damage on the Scotch Whisky sector, with exports to the US down 30% since the tariff came into effect and the industry grappling with losses now totalling around £300 million.  These losses relate only to tariffs – the impact of Covid-19 has been serious and has compounded what is now a very serious situation for Scotch Whisky, with some brands forced out of the market and jobs in the industry and our supply chain now at risk. 

“The UK government must accelerate negotiations to bring an end to tariffs between the UK and US before preparations for November’s Presidential election bring talks to a halt.  It has taken the UK government a full six months after the UK left the EU to start to tackle tariffs directly with the US government, which seems to us inexplicably slow.  The UK government must now focus its energy on developing a clear strategy for settling the UK share of the Airbus/Boeing and steel and aluminium disputes with the US, rather than looking to the EU to do this for us.  Negotiations on a free trade agreement with the US will not solve tariffs and will not be credible while they remain in place. While we welcomed International Trade Secretary Liz Truss’ visit to the US last week, to talk directly to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, it was clearly too little, too late.

“In the meantime, the Prime Minister and Chancellor must step in to ensure that the damage to our industry is, as far as possible, mitigated.  Scotch Whisky is a crucial part of Scotland’s economy, employing over 11,000 people and many more than that through our supply chain, in some of the UK’s most productive jobs.  The support promised to date - £500,000 of export promotion - is woefully inadequate compared to the support offered by the French and US governments to their national industries that have been targeted by tariffs. At the very least, the government must commit to a duty cut in the Autumn Budget.”