Scots industry leaders call for talks with Joe Biden to end whisky tariffs

Industry leaders in Scotland have called for urgent talks to be held with new US President Joe Biden to end the swingeing whisky tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.

Joe Biden is being urged to reconsider whisky tariffs

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce and CBI Scotland warn that the flagship Scottish industry has been "hit hard" by duties of up to 25 per cent on imports to the US.

Tariffs of £5.6 billion were imposed by former president Donald Trump’s administration in retaliation for state support given to Airbus, with products including Scotch whisky badly affected by the measures.

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The whisky industry and its supply chain are a vital part of the Scottish economy and supports tens of thousands of jobs and contributes billions of pounds in exports.

Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: "The industry continues to be hit hard by the unfair tariffs imposed by the US which is seeing millions worth in exports being lost every month. This is on top of ongoing trade disruption as a result of Brexit and the pandemic. This has been exacerbated by the tariff of 25 per cent on single malt that has been in place since October 2019.

“It is frustrating that an agreement has not been reached to resolve this long-standing trade dispute. We urge the UK Government to act with pace and resume these negotiations once the new US Trade Representative assumes office with a focus to remove these unfriendly tariffs.

“In light of these continuing costs to the Scotch Whisky industry, we also call upon the Scottish and UK Government to use their upcoming budgets to outline further support measures to protect one of Scotland’s ‘lifeblood’ sectors.”

Tracy Black, CBI Scotland Director also urged to the new President to look at the issue.

“Increased tariffs placed on British goods by the US Government remain extremely disappointing and put British businesses in the crosshairs of a wider, ongoing dispute with the EU," she added.

“With an already weakened economy, where even extremely viable firms are struggling to stay afloat, the tariffs put vital jobs at risk, particularly in our vital Scotch whisky industry.

“We urge the new Biden Administration to reconsider these actions and reconvene with the European Commission to resolve existing trade barriers as soon as possible. A resolution that protects people’s livelihoods, communities and minimises further disruption so firms can focus on rebuilding their operations – along with aiding our post-pandemic recovery – is possible.”

The EU responded to the move by the Trump administration with tariffs on £3bn of US goods over subsidies given to Boeing.

In December, the UK announced it would suspend those measures from January 1, presenting it as an olive branch to the US post-Brexit.

UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer earlier today called for the UK Government to negotiate with Joe Biden’s administration to remove US tariffs on Scotch whisky.

“When businesses are working flat out to weather the storm of the coronavirus, the 25% imposed on Scotch whisky and other UK goods was an act of economic and diplomatic vandalism,” Sir Keir said in an article for the Herald.

“Now, with a new President and a new administration in place, the UK Government must seize this opportunity and appeal to Joe Biden to reverse Trump’s harmful tariffs.”

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