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Whisky chiefs head to US over fears of tariffs hike

By Lorna Thompson

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SCOTCH whisky bosses are to visit the US for talks over fears the tariff imposed on single malt imports will be increased.

The US imposed a 25 per cent duty on Scotch single malt whisky in October as part of a long-running dispute over aircraft subsidies.

The Office of the US Trade Representative is now reviewing tariffs – which could result in the rate being hiked yet further.

Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) representatives will put forward their concerns in crunch talks with US government trade officials in Washington DC next week, including its chief executive, Karen Betts.

She said: "There’s real concern about a rise in tariffs on Scotch whisky – a further rise could be devastating to distillers.

"We will speak to the US government and urge them to lift the tariffs altogether – all the tariffs are doing is damaging the sector on both sides.

"Tariffs on whisky products also has an impact on the American economy. Price rises impact sales, which impacts on investment and jobs, and also has an effect on taxes."

Scotch Whisky Association representatives will visit the US next week.
Scotch Whisky Association representatives will visit the US next week.

The SWA has raised fears the added costs will lead to a reduction in the spirits crossing the Atlantic, putting jobs and investment at risk.

The organisation is calling on the UK Government to support the sector and mitigate the impact.

Keir Greenaway, of union GMB Scotland, said: "This is bad news for the Scottish economy and should also set alarm bells ringing for UK-US trade negotiations post-Brexit.

"This is an uncompromising US administration and there will be no special favours for the so called 'special relationship' – it’s no wonder the SWA is in a panic and Scotland should be too.

"A further hike in tariffs could impact on distilleries and maturation in island, rural and northern operations, and could also harm bottling operations in the central belt too. Those workers and their communities will be seeking urgent assurances from the UK Government."

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