The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has called for the “swift” removal of tariffs on US whiskies in a return to the historic ‘zero for zero’ agreement between the US and EU that began in the mid-90s.
Since June 2018, US whiskies have been subject to an additional tariff of 25%, ending 25 years of tariff-free trade in whiskies between the UK and the US.
The decision to impose a tariff on US whiskies, initially taken by the EU, has had a seismic impact on our wine and spirit industry, and resulted in huge declines in trade with our most significant trade partner, according to the WSTA.
Whilst the annual value of US whiskey imports to the UK has halved since 2017, UK importers, the hospitality sector and in turn, domestic US whiskey fans have paid an extra £55m in retaliatory tariff, since duties came into effect.
The WSTA has also warned the government about the perils of expanding the tariff regime to target wine as part of their trade strategy.
The trade body said that in total, US wines make up approximately 1 in 10 bottles of wine on the UK market, but that US bulk imports make up 22%, risking jobs in plants in Bristol, Cheshire, Durham, Fermanagh, Manchester and Norfolk.
The continuation of tariffs could risk the US targeting UK exports, the WSTA has warned.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “This government is a strong proponent of free trade around the world. The next step to take is to remove US wines and spirits from all current and future trade disputes.
“US whiskies have paid more than their fair share of tariff, and in a year when the hospitality industry has seen significant closures, it’s time we got back to trade and not tariffs with our close friends across the pond.
The WSTA supports the removal of tariffs on all wines and spirits with immediate effect.”