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Scotch whisky makers want government action on US tariffs

By Caoimhe Toman

Date: Thursday 13 Aug 2020

(Sharecast News) - Scotch whisky makers in the UK have called for action from the government against the US tariffs imposed on imports.
The industry said the government was acting "inexplicably slow" after it was revealed on Wednesday that the US had lifted tariffs on shortbread and other products after negotiations with international trade secretary Liz Truss.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) complained that the 25% tariff has been retained on malt whisky and Scotch whisky liqueurs such as Drambuie, especially as the US is one of the industry's largest markets.

The association accused UK ministers of prioritising post-Brexit trade talks with the US rather than fight against the 25% tariffs imposed on Scotch whisky and other goods by the US last October.

The sanctions were implemented after a dispute regarding Airbus and Boeing between the US and the EU.

Karen Betts, SWA's chief executive, said tariffs had led to the loss of £300m in US sales, with some firms pulling out of the US entirely.

"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," she added. "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."

Truss said on Thursday that she welcomes "the US decision not to impose tariffs on gin and blended whisky, and to remove tariffs on shortbread," she said.

"But there are still tariffs on UK goods like single malt Scotch. These tariffs are in no one's interests. I am in further talks with [US trade representative Robert Lighthizer] to remove them asap."

The SWA officials believe that the tariffs on whisky were maintained to be used as a bargaining chip in its battle with the EU over Airbus and Boeing.

According to the Guardian they also believe that the UK government only focused on the damages the tariffs caused to exports after it began intensively lobbying ministers.

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