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UK slaps 35% tariff on Russian vodka

The UK government has announced an additional 35% tariff on a list of Russian goods including vodka to increase economic pressure on the country.

The increase in tariffs will be effective from next week

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the UK and international partners are supporting the World Trade Organization (WTO) to carry out tariff increases and export bans, with the hopes of preventing ‘those who fail to respect the rules-based international order’ from ‘reaping its benefits’.

Hundreds of Russian products worth more than £900 million (US$1.2m) are being hit with punitive tariffs on top of current tariffs – including vodka.

International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with our international partners in our determination to punish Putin for his barbaric actions in Ukraine, and we will continue our work to starve his regime of the funds that enable him to carry them out.”

Both Russia and Belarus will be excluded from the ​Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariff rates. MFN rates are tariffs that countries have agreed for imports from other members of the WTO.

Trevelyan added: “The WTO is founded on respect for the rule of law, which Putin has shown he holds in contempt.

“By depriving his government of key benefits of WTO membership, we are denying him further resources for his invasion.”

A ban on exports to Russia of high-end luxury goods is also being carried out, which will include items such as luxury vehicles and works of art.

The new measures being enforced are intended to damage Russia’s economy during the war, while ‘minimising the impact’ on UK businesses.

‘Exert maximum economic pressure’

Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer, commented: “Our new tariffs will further isolate the Russian economy from global trade, ensuring it does not benefit from the rules-based international system it does not respect.

“These tariffs build on the UK’s existing work to starve Russia’s access to international finance, sanction Putin’s cronies and exert maximum economic pressure on his regime.”

Sales of spirits, beverages, iron, steel, fertilisers and wood are also included in the list of products slapped with a 35% increase in levies.

The imposition of tariffs will be effective from next week.

Meanwhile, major spirits firms including Diageo and Brown-Forman ceased sales in Russia in response to the war, and Halewood Artisanal Spirits recently announced it had moved production of its JJ Whitley vodka back to England, two years after opening a distillery in Russia. 

Stoli Group also ended the use of the Stolichnaya name in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while supermarkets across the UK, including Tesco and Morrisons, removed Russian vodka from shelves to show their support for Ukraine.

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