Donald Trump imposed tariffs on whisky and other UK-made products as part of a dispute with Europe over aerospace subsidies
The Scotch whisky industry has welcomed a deal between the UK and the US governments, after having been dealing with damaging tariffs, imposed by the Trump administration in 2019, which will be suspended for four months.
The 25% tariff has fallen under a range of European products targeted as part of a historical row over the government subsidies given to European aerospace firm Airbus and to the US plane-maker Boeing.
Just last month, the Scotch whisky industry said that the penalty applied to single malt whisky, which in a dispute not of its making, had accounted for over £500m of international export losses.
This comes after British fishing businesses could go bust or end up moving to Europe due to post-Brexit trading disruption, industry figures have now warned. MPs have been told that paperwork, due to new border controls, had proved to be a “massive problem” for fishing businesses and should be moved to an online format.
The suspension of these tariffs from the US, which also cover some other products produced in the UK including cheese, allows time for a permanent agreement to be reached following the UK’s unilateral decision during the final stages of the Brexit transition period to lift its retaliatory tariffs imposed by the EU on some US-made goods.
A joint statement said: “The United Kingdom and the United States are undertaking a four-month tariff suspension to ease the burden on industry and take a bold, joint step towards resolving the longest running disputes at the World Trade Organisation.
“This will allow time to focus on negotiating a balanced settlement to the disputes, and begin seriously addressing the challenges posed by new entrants to the civil aviation market from non-market economies, such as China.”
This comes after Ireland’s foreign minister has said that the EU is “negotiating with a partner it simply can’t trust” in post-Brexit talks between the two parties. On Wednesday, the UK has said that it would be unilaterally extending the grace periods for Irish Sea border checks, a move that the EU said would be breaching international law.
It was October of 2019 when former President Donald Trump signed off on tariffs covering £6.1bn of goods from the EU including food, as well as wine and spirits.
Liz Truss, the UK’s Trade secretary said: “I am delighted to say that our American allies – under their new president and his hard-working staff at the US Trade Representative – have embraced our move to seek a fair settlement.”
Karen Betts, the Scotch Whisky Association’s chief executive, responded: “The tariff on single malt Scotch whisky exports to the US has been doing real damage to Scotch whisky in the 16 months it has been in place, with exports to the US falling by 35%.”