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Distilled Spirits Council Statement in Response to USTR's Notice of Proposed Retaliatory Tariffs on Additional EU Distilled Spirits Products

USTR is requesting public input on whether it should impose new tariffs on EU spirits, including Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey, other Whiskeys and Grape Brandy (from all EU members), vodka and gin from the UK, Germany, France and Spain and liqueurs and cordials from all other EU members not currently facing tariffs.   

The U.S. distilled spirits sector strongly opposes any additional spirits tariffs, which would only escalate trade tensions across the Atlantic and further jeopardize American companies and hospitality jobs already under duress as a result of COVID-19. 

EU and U.S. distilled spirits companies have suffered enough as a result of this trade war.  Since October 18, 2019, the U.S. has imposed a 25 percent tariff on imports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky; Single Malt Irish Whiskey from Northern Ireland; and liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and United Kingdom.   

Since June 22, 2018, the EU has imposed a retaliatory tariff of 25 percent?on all U.S. Whiskey imports.  According to a new DISCUS report released yesterday marking the two-year tariff anniversary, American Whiskey exports to the EU have tumbled by 33 percent and cost $300 million since the EU’s 25 percent retaliatory tariff went into effect. 

The longer these disputes go unresolved, the greater the threat of even more tariffs on our industry.  The EU has stated it may impose retaliatory tariffs this spring on U.S. rum, vodka, and brandy in its parallel case at the WTO concerning Boeing.  In addition, the EU is scheduled to increase its retaliatory tariff on American Whiskey to 50 percent in spring 2021.  

We urge the Administration and our EU trading partners to de-escalate this trade dispute by simultaneously removing the U.S. tariffs on EU beverage alcohol products and the EU’s tariff on American Whiskey.   

We will be participating in the comment process to register our strong opposition to any tariffs on distilled spirits products.  

Additional Background: 

U.S. imports of Scotch and Irish Whiskey are down by nearly 28 percent between October 2019-April 2020 ($670 million) compared to October 2018-April 2019 ($936 million). (latest data available) 

U.S. imports of liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom are down by approximately 21 percent between October 2019-April 2020 ($267 million) compared October 2018-April 2019 ($336 million). (latest data available)  

Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. is the leading voice & advocate for distilled spirits in the United States. 


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