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Johnson urges Trump to lift tariff on single malt Scotch

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has urged US president Donald Trump to remove the tariffs on EU goods, including single malt Scotch whisky.

British prime minister Boris Johnson is pleading for the US to abolish tariffs on EU goods

Last month, the US government imposed a 25% import tariff on EU agricultural goods, including single malt Scotch and single malt Irish whiskey. The tariff is the result of a dispute with the EU over civil aircraft subsidies.

Johnson, the leader of the Conservative party since July 2019, reviewed a number of issues with Trump over the phone on Tuesday evening (5 November).

In addition to discussing security issues, Johnson insisted that the US government drop tariffs on EU goods.

“The prime minister urged the president to lift tariffs on goods including Scotch whisky, and ahead of a US decision on additional tariffs urged him not to impose tariffs on car exports,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

Single malt Scotch represents more than half of the total value of UK products on the US government tariff list, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Scotch whisky exports to the US broke the £1 billion (US$1.2bn) barrier last year, of which single malt accounted for £344 million (US$442m), equivalent to 33%.

The SWA warned that the tariff on single malts “will see exports to the US drop by as much as 20% in the next 12 months, as Scotch whisky will become less competitive in the US market”.

Trump locked the US in various trade wars in 2018 after imposing 25% and 10% tariffs on steel and aluminium imports respectively, effective from 1 June 2018.

The EU’s 25% retaliatory tariff on US products, including American whiskey, was imposed in July 2018, and resulted in a 21% sales decrease.

For an in-depth analysis of the US-EU tariffs and how it will affect spirits producers, click here.

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