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Ongoing Tariffs In E.U. And U.K. Hamper American Whiskey Exports

October 28, 2021

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) says American distillers are still facing significant challenges in overseas markets as a result of ongoing tariffs in some countries. “The retaliatory tariffs on American whiskey exports to the E.U. and the U.K. remain the top trade barrier facing the U.S. spirits industry,” said Robert Maron, DISCUS vice president for international trade. “These tariffs have seriously impeded the export progress that has benefited our sector and created jobs across the country.”

The tariffs, in place since 2018, have caused exports to drop substantially for the wider American spirits industry and especially among whiskies. DISCUS reports that from 2018 to 2020, overall spirits exports fell 23% to $1.4 billion. Whiskey exports were even more depressed during that same period, down 29% to $846 million. In the E.U., the largest export market for American whiskies, the decline was even more severe, with the category down nearly 40% from 2018 to 2020, a roughly $260 million decrease to $440 million in exports.

The tariffs marked an abrupt end to the successful period between 1997 and 2018 when the U.S., U.K., and E.U. eliminated spirits tariffs. According to DISCUS, dropping tariffs led to a 290% increase in spirits exports to Europe. “It is critical to secure a return to the ‘zero-for-zero’ agreement with the E.U. and U.K., which has been instrumental to our export success,” added Maron.—Shane English

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