EDINBURGH, United Kingdom (AFP) — Scotland’s whiskey makers rang alarm bells on Friday over a proposed hike to a damaging 25% tariff the U.S. administration imposed as part of its trade standoff with Europe.
Scots Whisky Association head Karen Betts said exports of Scotch whiskey had already plunged by more than a quarter since the tariff was originally imposed in October. (Unlike Irish and Americans, the Scots spell the alcohol without an “e” because of the translation of the word in Scottish Gaelic.)
Trade bottlenecks created by the coronavirus pandemic shrank exports to the lucrative U.S. market even further, she said.
“This is clearly deeply worrying for our industry,” Betts said in a statement.
“The tariffs make Scotch uncompetitive in the U.S. against other spirits and companies are losing sales and market share to competitor products.”
The original tariff came into effect when Washington retaliated over EU state subsidies for aircraft manufacturer Airbus.
The U.S. government said earlier this week that it was considering whether to impose further tariffs on European spirits, including Scotch whiskey.
Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, which officially left the European Union in January.
“As economies on both sides of the Atlantic struggle to recover from the coronavirus downturn, now is not the time to hit consumer products once again,” Betts said.
In February, the industry said it was facing a £100 million ($125 million) fall in exports as the 25% tariff on imports of single malt Scotch into the United States started to hit.
© Agence France-Presse