The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has proposed new tariffs and raising existing tariffs on a number of goods imported from the EU, including Irish whiskey.

The proposals are valued at $3.1bn, and are a continuation of the long-running trade dispute between the European Union and the United States over Airbus subsidies.

Products potentially in the firing line include Irish whiskey, gin, and beer, as well as olives and yoghurt.

Existing tariffs have already heavily impacted on American imports of Irish whiskey and Scotch, which were down nearly 28% between October 2019 and April 2020 compared to the same period last year ($670m compared to $936m).

Liquors and cordials from countries such as Ireland, Germany, Italy and Spain were similarly impacted by 21%, down from $336m to $267m.

In June 2018, the EU imposed a tariff of 25% on all US whiskey imports.  As a result, American whiskey exports to the EU have dropped by 33%.

Since October 2018 the US has imposed a 25% tariff on imports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Irish Whiskey from Northern Ireland and liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom.

The United States is the largest export market for Irish whiskey.  The Irish whiskey sector makes a substantial contribution to the US domestic economy by way of barrel purchases, tax receipts and advertising spending.  There is a fear that the longer the dispute goes unresolved, the greater the threat of more tariffs and lost business on both sides.

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