Discus: removal of tariffs must be ‘top priority’

The permanent removal of all retaliatory tariffs on American spirits exports must be ‘top priority’, the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus) has warned.

In a report with the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Discus reviewed a number of ‘major trade barriers’ for US spirits exports.

The trade body highlighted retaliatory tariffs, discriminatory taxes, regulatory standards, and certification and labelling measures as ‘major trade barriers’ for US spirits.

Robert Maron, Discus vice-president for international trade, said: “International trade is essential to the US distilled spirits sector and is instrumental to its long-term viability.

“In large part due to the comprehensive market-opening trade agreements that the US has achieved, US spirits exports have expanded significantly over the past two decades. However, US spirits continue to face an array of new and existing tariff and non-tariff barriers in export markets.”

Maron urged that the American spirits sector’s top priority should be the removal of retaliatory tariffs, which still exist in China and Turkey over steel and aluminium disputes.

Tariffs between the US, the EU and the UK are currently suspended. The punitive taxes were in place here between 2018 and 2023, causing total US spirits exports to drop by 12% to US$1.6 billion. American whiskey exports were down by 18% to US$975 million.

Furthermore, Maron said large and small distillers have both experienced cancelled contracts, and delayed distribution deals due to the retaliatory tariffs. Some had also had to postpone expansion and investment plans.

“We strongly urge the administration to secure the permanent return to zero-for-zero tariffs on spirits with the EU and UK,” Maron added. “If the retaliatory tariffs were to return, they would reverse the rebound in US spirits exports that has been seen through August 2022.”

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Author: Melita Kiely