EXCLUSIVE Bourbon makers urge Joe Biden to press Boris Johnson to drop 25 percent tariffs they say are hurting their industry during his visit to Scotland – a day after EU agrees to ditch the duties
- The Bourbon Alliance on Sunday called on Biden to raise the issue of tariffs with Johnson when they meet
- Biden is due to arrive in the UK on Monday for UN climate summit
- He confirmed that the US had reached a deal with the EU to end Trump-era duty
- Imports of whiskey to the EU had been hit with a 25 percent tariff in 2018
- But tariffs remain in place on imports to UK after London left the trade bloc
Bourbon makers on Sunday demanded the UK end its 25 percent tariff on imported American whiskeys after the US and Europe agreed a day earlier to ditch a raft of tit-for-tat duties.
They called for President Biden to raise the issue with Boris Johnson during his visit to Scotland for the COP26 climate summit.
‘We urge the prime minister and President Biden to discuss this issue, in-person in Scotland next week,’ said the Bourbon Alliance, which represents some of the best known brands including such as Makers Mark, Jim Beam and Jack Daniels, as well as British bars and importers.
‘The announcement in the EU sets a precedent for a UK resolution and we desperately need to see the swift removal of the tariff in the UK, and urgent support for the hospitality sector which is now being left behind.’
Biden is due to fly into Edinburgh on Monday morning.
The ‘rebalancing duty’ on bourbon and American whiskeys was introduced in 2018 in a row between Washington and European over steel and aluminum.
American bourbon makers and the hospitality industry on both sides of the Atlantic want President Biden to push Prime Minister Johnson on tariffs
Europe imposed a 25 percent tariff on imports of American whiskey as part of retaliatory measures against the Trump administration. The EU announced it was dropping them on Saturday. But it leaves UK tariffs in place as it is no longer part of the bloc
The Distilled Spirits Council of United States says the tariffs caused a drop of Bourbon imports into the UK of 53 percent.
But American whiskeys were only collateral damage.
The Trump administration placed taxes on EU steel and aluminum in 2018 because it said they were a threat to U.S. national security.
Europe responded with countertariffs on everything from U.S.-made motorbikes to peanut butter, jeans and whiskey.
On Saturday, U.S. officials announced that the dispute had been resolved.
They said that controls on aluminum and steel would not be entirely lifted, but a certain amount would be allowed into the U.S. without tariffs.
In return, Europe said it would lift its retaliatory tariffs.
That leaves the U.K. It was part of the E.U. when the tariffs were imposed, but is no longer part of the trade bloc after Brexit.
Martha Dalton, co-Founder of the Bourbon Alliance, welcomed the Europe deal.
‘The UK must now focus on reaching a similar resolution, working with colleagues in the US to finally remove the tariff which continues to cause such disruption to the UK economy,’ she said.
‘When the UK left the Customs Union, we were promised the freedom to establish an independent trade policy – the time has come to realise the opportunities of Brexit and to cut the tariff for good.’
Insides say Johnson and Biden have developed a warm working relationship during their meetings since Biden was sworn in earlier this year
The alliance said the hospitality sector on both sides of the Atlantic was still struggling to recover from the impact of the pandemic which has left venues, suppliers and staff facing huge financial difficulty.
The removal of the tariff on American whiskey imports would allow venues to fully re-stock their bars for the first time since the dispute began in 2018,it said.
CEO of the Wine and Spirits Trade Association Miles Beale said: ‘It is welcome news that the US and EU have made such significant progress on the steel and aluminum dispute and taken US whiskey producers out of the tariffs firing line.
‘The UK must now capitalise on this momentum without delay, suspend the tariffs, and quickly work with the US to resolve the dispute.
‘At a time when the economy is in recovery from continued lockdown, it is vital that we move to support our UK spirits importers and the hard-hit hospitality industry at pace.’