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Industry Cites Major Concern over New Alcohol Tariffs

A group of international beverage alcohol trade associations have come together to release a joint statement, citing major concerns over the most recent round of tariffs imposed by the US government on certain imported spirits.

The United States government recently announced a 25% tariff on imports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky; Single Malt Irish Whiskey from Northern Ireland; liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and United Kingdom; and certain wines from France, Germany, Spain and United Kingdom.

The tariffs are in response to a previous EU tariff dating back to 22nd June 2018, which saw all American whiskeys imported to the EU facing a similar 25% tarrif.

The group of 15 international beverage alcohol associations includes Drinks Ireland|Spirits, Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey Association, the Scotch Whisky Association, spiritsEUROPE, and the American Distilled Spirits Association.

The statement was sent to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Commissioners Malmström and Hogan.

“Our industries are collateral damage in trade disputes that have nothing to do with the beverage alcohol sector,” reads the statement. “This new round of tariffs will further damage a transatlantic industry that has already been negatively impacted by the EU’s retaliatory tariff on American whiskey.”

“Since the EU’s imposition of tariffs, American whiskey exports to the EU have decreased nearly 21%,” it continued. “Tariffs are taxes on US consumers who create demand for these products in the US marketplace.”

The statement points out the integrated nature of sectors between the EU and US, with companies owning a range of European and American distinctive spirits and wines in their brand portfolios. “These new US tariffs on EU spirits and wines could result in the loss of 8,000 good-paying jobs across the US beverage alcohol sector, from importers, distributors, wholesalers, to the hospitality sector.

“Prior to these recent trade disputes, US and EU spirits exporters enjoyed more than two decades of tariff-free access to each other’s markets, and US and EU wine exporters have faced very low tariffs. This open access to each other’s markets has significantly benefitted EU and US distillers, vintners, farmers, and the hospitality industry on both sides of the Atlantic, resulting in increased jobs, community investment and consumer choice.”

Finally, the associations point out the crucial nature of the coming fourth quarter of the year in terms of sales as consumers gear up for the holiday season.

“In order to protect the jobs and communities we support; we urgently call on the US and the EU to reach an agreement to de-escalate the current trade disputes by immediately and simultaneously removing the EU’s retaliatory tariff on US whiskey and the US tariffs on EU spirits and wines.”

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