Glasgow MP Welcomes U.S. Suspension Of Single Malt Whisky Tariffs

Carol Monaghan, MP for Glasgow North West, has welcomed the United States’ decision to suspend trade tariffs on Single Malt whisky imported from Scotland.

These tariffs were first imposed in October 2019, when the Trump administration approved 25% tariffs on whisky imports into the US. This policy move attracted significant controversy at the time, as the tariffs were the result of a long-standing aviation industry dispute between the US and the EU (primarily concerning subsidies for Boeing and Airbus).

In October 2019, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the US could impose tariffs of £6.1 billion on goods imported from the EU. At the time, Scotland’s whisky industry was targeted as part of these far-reaching tariffs. Other goods of considerable importance to Scotland’s economy (e.g. cashmere clothing) were also affected. Prior to this move, the Single Malt industry had enjoyed a zero-tariff import agreement with the US for the previous 25 years.

On 9th February 2021, Carol Monaghan MP raised the issue of Single Malt tariffs in the House of Commons. Monaghan asked UK Government Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, what action the Cabinet had taken to negotiate the abolishment of the 25% tariffs with US counterparts. Additionally, Monaghan lobbied the UK Government to bring an end to this period of trade hostility, so that Scotland’s whisky producers could fully re-establish their highly lucrative trading with US partners.

According to the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA), since the imposition of the 25% tariffs, Scotland’s whisky exports to the US have fallen by 35%. In economic terms, this has cost the whisky industry more than half a billion pounds since late 2019.

On 4th March 2021, it was announced that Washington D.C. had agreed to suspend tariffs on imported goods from the UK, including Single Malt whisky. Currently, the tariffs have been suspended for a period of 4 months, whilst UK and US counterparts negotiate a longer-term agreement.

Commenting on the situation, Monaghan said:
“I am absolutely delighted that Washington has taken the decision to end these crippling trade tariffs. Scotland’s whisky industry was caught up in a trade dispute that has cost it more than half a billion pounds, and this step is crucial to re-establishing a healthy trade partnership between Scotland and the US.

“The whisky industry is of enormous importance to the Scottish economy. On top of this, it is also a central component of many Scottish communities, both rural and urban. Many whisky processing plants and distilleries are located in small communities, providing valuable employment opportunities for local people. This is true within my own constituency of Glasgow North West, where Edrington in Drumchapel employs several hundred people, and has put Drumchapel on the whisky map as one of the key processors of world-famous Single Malts.

“I echo the sentiments of SWA Chief Executive Karen Betts, that whisky producers across Scotland will mark today with a tremendous sigh of relief. For an industry that currently employs more than 10 000 people in Scotland, jobs and livelihoods across the country now feel more secure and certain.

“It is now imperative for both UK and US Governments to continue their dialogue, so that a longer-term solution can be agreed upon and ratified. I shall continue to lobby the UK Government to this end.”