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US and UK sign trade deal to protect spirits post-Brexit

Trade body the Distilled Spirits Council has welcomed a new agreement signed by the US and the UK to ensure protection for spirits as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.

The UK was the top export market for US distilled spirits in 2017

Gregg Doud, chief agricultural negotiator in the office of the US trade representative, and Kim Darroch, UK ambassador to the US, signed two agreements for wine and spirits on 31 January 2019.

The deal ensures that mutual protection for Bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey will “continue uninterrupted” when the UK departs the EU in March 2019.

Currently, the US has agreements on wine and distilled spirits with the EU which cover trade with the UK as part of its membership in the EU.

“Ensuring that our flagship spirits exports – Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey – will continue to be protected provides our companies much-needed assurances as the UK negotiates its departure from the EU,” said Distilled Spirits Council president and CEO Chris Swonger.

“On behalf of all of our American whiskey producers, we thank the US government and the staff of the US-UK trade and investment working group for securing this important outcome.”

The UK was the top export market for US distilled spirits in 2017, totalling US$187 million, and the largest single market for American whiskey exports, totalling almost US$150m.

Distinctive product recognition for Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey by the EU was established through a reciprocal agreement with the US in 1994.

The acknowledgment is critical to ensure that only products labelled and sold in the EU as ‘Bourbon’ and ‘Tennessee whiskey’ are made in the US and follow US regulations.

The Distilled Spirits Council has been working closely with the office of the US Trade Representative, US Department of Agriculture, US Department of Commerce and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau on this issue since soon after the Brexit announcement in 2016.

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