August 6, 2020

SWA asks for whisky fans’ help to call time on tariffs

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has launched a new campaign urging people to write to their MPs underlining the damage that US tariffs are causing to the Scotch Whisky industry and asking them to urge the government to “Call Time on Tariffs”. 
Tariffs imposed by the US on imports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky have hit the industry hard in its most valuable export market.  A 25% tariff was imposed on Single Malt Scotch Whisky in October 2019 and since then exports of all Scotch Whisky to the US have fallen by 30%, amounting to over £200m in lost exports. 
The situation is now more urgent than ever, with the US government threatening to raise existing tariffs or introduce new ones on blended Scotch and British gin later this summer.  The SWA is asking whisky fans and supporters of the industry throughout the UK to write to their MPs and to take to social media to appeal for decisive action from the UK government to defend Scotch Whisky and get tariffs removed as soon as possible.
The SWA wants the UK government to use the opportunity of the current UK-US FTA negotiations to discuss trade disputes and the removal of tariffs with the US, warning that if tariffs on Scotch Whisky are not removed this summer, ahead of the US election, the industry will face many more months of losses of sales in the US which will lead to a loss in market share.  This will cause damage to the industry back at home, now also hard-hit by the impact of coronavirus, and could lead to job losses in the industry and the supply chain. 
The SWA has also said that a UK-US discussion of tariffs must also include the UK removing the EU’s tariff on American whiskies as soon as the Brexit transition ends at the end of this year.  This tariff is damaging the US whiskey industry – with exports to the EU falling 33% since it has been in place.  The Scotch and American whiskey industries are united in urging governments on both sides of the Atlantic return to the tariff-free trade that has benefitted both industries for more than 25 years.
The Call Time on Tariffs campaign encourages anyone who loves Scotch, its distilleries, its communities and its place in Scotland’s heritage, to ask their local MP to press the UK government for the rapid removal of tariffs. A template letter written by the SWA points to the contribution of Scotch Whisky to the economy, arguing that imposing tariffs on products unrelated to broader trade disputes is unfair on both producers and consumers. 
Chief Executive of the SWA, Karen Betts, said: “Tariffs are a clear and present danger to Scotch Whisky.  They are hitting our industry hard, with exports to the US now down 30% and producers across the board feeling the pinch – which has only been made worse by the impact of the coronavirus on our global exports and sales.
“The UK government must now work fast with the US government to Call Time on Tariffs.  The UK must use the opportunity of ongoing trade talks with the US to work out what each side needs to do to resolve their differences and bring an end to tariffs.  The damage being inflicted on unrelated sectors such as Scotch, shortbread and cashmere, as well as on American whiskey, is simply unjustifiable.  We are paying a heavy price for trade disputes that have nothing to do with us.  
“Scotch Whisky is a wonderful thing – in its diversity, its heritage, its timelessness and its global appeal.  Now we need our supporters to root for us and to tell governments that disputes between aircraft manufacturers should remain between aircraft manufacturers.  And that traditional Scottish businesses should be left to thrive and trade in open markets, to the benefit of our businesses, our employees, our communities and our supply chain. So please, write to your MP to urge them to press the UK Government to Call Time on Tariffs!”
Details of the #CallTimeOnTariffs campaign, including a letter template, can be found via the SWA website.