SWA asks drinkers to join tariff campaign

20th July, 2020 by Nicola Carruthers

Trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is urging consumers to show their support for the spirit by writing a letter to their local MP calling for the removal of tariffs between the EU and the US.

Scotch whisky ice

The Scotch Whisky Association has launched the Call Time on Tariffs campaign

The move is part of the SWA’s new campaign, Call Time on Tariffs. The trade group is calling for Scotch whisky fans also take to social media to appeal for the UK government to get tariffs removed as quickly as possible. The SWA has written a template letter that highlights the contribution of Scotch whisky to the economy.

The US imposed a 25% import tariff on a number of EU goods, including single malt Scotch whisky, on 18 October last year. The move came in relation to an ongoing spat between the EU and US regarding aircraft subsidies for plane manufacturer Airbus, which the US argues caused the Boeing 777, 787 and 747 aircrafts to lose sales and market share, thus affecting revenue for US producers and jobs for US workers.

SWA chief executive Karen Betts said: “Now we need our supporters to root for us and to tell governments that disputes between aircraft manufacturers should remain between aircraft manufacturers. And that traditional Scottish businesses should be left to thrive and trade in open markets, to the benefit of our businesses, our employees, our communities and our supply chain.

“So please, write to your MP to urge them to press the UK government to Call Time on Tariffs.”

The SWA said that since the tariff was imposed, exports of Scotch whisky to the US have declined by more than 30%. Export figures for the second quarter of 2020 are not yet available.

Betts said: “Tariffs are a clear and present danger to Scotch whisky. They are hitting our industry hard, with exports to the US now down 30% and producers across the board feeling the pinch – which has only been made worse by the impact of the coronavirus on our global exports and sales.”

The US is also considering increasing tariffs on EU products and extending tariffs to other products, including gin and vodka made in the UK.

The SWA is calling for the current UK-US trade negotiations to include the removal of the US tariffs on Scotch this summer ahead of the upcoming presidential election in the US. The trade group also wants the discussion to include the elimination of the EU’s 25% tariff on American whiskey once the Brexit transition period closes at the end of 2020.

Betts added: “The UK government must now work fast with the US government to Call Time on Tariffs. The UK must use the opportunity of ongoing trade talks with the US to work out what each side needs to do to resolve their differences and bring an end to tariffs.

“The damage being inflicted on unrelated sectors such as Scotch, shortbread and cashmere, as well as on American whiskey, is simply unjustifiable. We are paying a heavy price for trade disputes that have nothing to do with us.”

The Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus) and Spirits United have also urged consumers to take action and call for an end to all tariffs on distilled spirits between the EU and the States.

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