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Tariffs cause 33% fall in American whiskey exports

Exports of American whiskey to the EU have plummeted by a third since the EU introduced a 25% retaliatory tariff in June 2018, new research has revealed.

Discus is urging an end to tariffs between the US and EU, which are causing significant declines in American whiskey exports

According to a new report released by the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus), American whiskey exports to the EU – the US spirits industry’s largest export market –dropped from US$747 million to US$501m between June 2018 and April 2020 – a decline of 33%.

The EU introduced the tariffs in response to US tariffs on EU aluminium and steel.

The report suggests that had exports continued to grow at the pre-tariff rate (5.2%), American whiskey exports to the EU would have reached US$838m by June 2020. As such, the tariffs have potentially cost the US exports an estimated US$337m.

Chris Swonger, president and CEO of the Discus, said: “American distillers enjoyed two decades of unparalleled growth in the EU prior to the implementation of these retaliatory tariffs.

“This report makes clear that these tariffs took the wind out of the sails for American whiskey exports to our top export market, which has resulted in a loss of more than a quarter of a billion dollars of sales.

“On the two-year anniversary of the EU tariffs, this report shows the tariffs have derailed a great American export success story. Our concern is not only the significant reduction in sales to the EU, it is also the loss of consumer mindshare for these uniquely American products.”

Discus said the EU market accounted for almost 52% of American whiskey exports in 2019.

From January 1997 to June 2018, American whiskey exports to the EU grew five-fold, from US$143m in 1997 to more than US$750m in 2018.

Swonger added: “With the destruction caused by the tariffs and the severe impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry, distillers have suffered enough. It’s time for the US and EU to resolve the trade issues and remove all spirits tariffs, so US and EU distillers can get back to building their businesses and supporting their local economies.”

He also noted the EU is due to increase its retaliatory tariff on American whiskey to 50% in June 2021.

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