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THE BUSINESS OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE

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Bourbon Alliance Calls on PM and Trade Secretary to 'Free The Spirit'

By News Team
Published on 13 July 2021

The Bourbon Alliance last week (July 6) submitted official comments to the UK Department of International Trade, outlining the negative impacts its retaliatory 25% tariff on Bourbon and other American Whiskeys are having on the UK's hospitality sector, and urging for their immediate removal.

The campaign – that includes Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Brown-Forman and an army of craft distillers, restaurants and pubs, retailers, wholesalers, and US Whiskey fans – called on the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP and Trade Secretary, Rt Hon Liz Truss MP to make good on their promises and cut the tariffs immediately.

The Bourbon Alliance encouraged the UK Government to do "the right thing and deliver on Prime Minster Boris Johnson's statement regarding the tariff." During a campaign visit to a Scotch Whisky distillery in the 2019 general election campaign, the Prime Minister said 'once we come out of the EU, those tariffs will not apply' - the Alliance is now calling on the PM to deliver this promise. The Alliance also urged the Government's Trade Secretary, Liz Truss to deliver on her own promise to 'see an urgent settlement of the dispute so we can remove these retaliatory tariffs on things like bourbon'. The Alliance said they hoped that "recent momentum in trans-Atlantic trade, and the successful resolution of the Boeing-Airbus dispute would pave the way for a zero-to-zero trade agreement between the US and the UK".

Since the UK first imposed its tariffs on American Whiskeys in June 2018, American Whiskey exports to the UK declined by 53%. Following the recent five-year suspension of tariffs on UK and US distilled spirits, including Scotch Whisky, in the WTO Boeing-Airbus disputes, the UK's imposition of a 25% tariff on American Whiskeys makes it the only spirits category subject to tariffs in connection to ongoing transatlantic trade disputes.

The UK has chosen to maintain these tariffs since leaving the EU – and before 31 December 2020 British consumers were footing the bill, fronting 22.8% of the total EU whiskey tariffs (on €203m of US exports) and continue to be collateral damage in the ongoing UK-US dispute over steel.

The Bourbon Alliance is a coalition of industry stakeholders whose livelihoods depend on being able to import US Whiskey into the UK. Supporters of the campaign to #FreeTheSpirit include some of the best known, household names, as well as an army of independent distillers, hospitality venues across the UK, retailers, distributors, festival organizers, and Bourbon fans.

To read our article about the new Bourbon Alliance, click here.

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