The biggest spirits stories of 2020

14th January, 2021 by Nicola Carruthers

Spirits caught in crossfire

American whiskey

Whisky has been the subject of punitive tariffs over the past few years, but now additional spirits such as rum and vodka have been caught in the crossfire. In November, the European Union (EU) imposed 25% tariffs on an additional US$4 billion worth of US goods, including rum, vodka, brandy and vermouth.

The latest tariffs were authorised by the World Trade Organization. The spat between the EU and US stems from a 16‐year dispute between plane makers Airbus and Boeing.

In 2019, the US implemented tariffs on US$7.5bn worth of EU goods, including single malt Scotch and single malt Irish whiskey. Since these tariffs were imposed, there has been a 34% decline in Scotch whisky exports to the US, and a 28% decline in liqueur and cordial exports.

Similarly, a 25% tariff on Bourbon and American whiskey announced by the EU in June 2018 led to a 41% decline in American whiskey exports to the EU.

A coalition of 20 alcohol trade groups warned the tariffs could force more businesses to close during the pandemic.

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