U.S. and EU End Whiskey Tariffs

In another positive sign for the continued boom of brown spirits, America and the European Union have lifted tariffs previously placed on whiskey imports.

This development comes as part of a broader agreement over the weekend between the U.S. and EU to resolve retaliatory tariffs involving their steel-aluminum trade dispute. That issue dated back to a trade war begun during the Trump administration.

Many in the U.S. distilling industry hailed the progress.

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“After three very difficult years of sagging American whiskey exports, the EU and U.S. are back to a zero-for-zero tariff agreement on distilled spirits, which has been instrumental to our export success and job creation on both sides of the Atlantic since 1997,” says Distilled Spirits Council President & CEO Chris Swonger, in a press release.

“Lifting this tariff burden on American whiskeys not only boosts U.S. distillers and farmers, it also supports the recovery of EU restaurants, bars and distilleries hit hard by the pandemic,” he adds. “With the removal of these EU tariffs, we are energized and ready to ramp up our American whiskey promotions in the EU to re-introduce America’s native spirits to EU consumers and resume a great American export success story.”

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According to DISCUS, since the implementation of the tariffs, American whiskey exports to the EU — the U.S. spirits industry’s largest export market — have fallen 37 percent, from $702 million to $440 million (2018-2020). 

With the tariffs lifted, what was already a fast-expanding industry gains even more opportunity for growth ahead.

“Kentucky distillers are in the middle of a $5.1-billion building spree to meet the growing global thirst for America’s only native spirit,” says Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory, in a press release. “There are now a record 10.3 million barrels of bourbon aging in Kentucky, the most in the Commonwealth’s 200-year distilling history.”

“The Kentucky Distillers’ Association and its 51 member companies are thrilled at the announcement that the US and the E.U. have agreed to remove retaliatory tariffs on Kentucky bourbon and American whiskey,” he adds. “And it couldn’t have come at a better time: the 25% tariff was set to double on Dec. 1.”

Feature photo by Daniel Norris on Unsplash.

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