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US lawmakers urge USTR Tai to call for removal of UK and EU whiskey tariffs

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Around 50 members of Congress urged U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Monday to call for the removal of the 25% tariffs on American whiskey imposed by the European Union and Britain in retaliation for US tariffs on steel and aluminum.

FILE PHOTO: Katherine Tai, who at the time was U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s candidate for U.S. trade representative, speaks after Biden announced her appointment in a new round of nominations and appointments during from a press conference at its transitional headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, USA, December 11, 2020. REUTERS / Mike Segar

The bipartisan group of members of the House of Representatives, led by Democrat John Yarmuth and Republican Andy Barr, both of Kentucky, warned that these tariffs, first imposed in June 2018 and due to double to 50% on the 1st June, undermine the success of US exports. story.

Since the tariffs were imposed, our exports of American whiskey to the EU have declined by 37% and to the UK by 53%, lawmakers wrote in a letter.

Lisa Hawkins, spokesperson for the Distilled Spirits Council business group, said there are now artisanal stills in every state in the United States who are at risk of further harmed by tariffs.

American whiskey distillers have suffered long enough from these trade disputes and the doubling of the EU tariff on June 1 will cause irreparable damage to our once-booming exports, Hawkins said in an emailed statement.

Lawmakers have said they hope recent agreements to suspend separate whiskey tariffs linked to a dispute over government subsidies to aircraft makers Boeing Co and Airbus SE would lead to the swift removal of all tariffs. on American, European and British wine and distilled spirits.

The permanent lifting of the tariff burden will also support the resumption of restaurants, bars and small artisanal distilleries that were forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic, they wrote.

Tariffs on steel and aluminum were imposed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Commerce under a Cold War-era national security trade law.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the tariffs had been effective in protecting U.S. metal producers, while Tai said a global solution to reduce excess steel and aluminum production capacity, largely centered in China, was necessary to solve the problems of the industry.

A USTR spokesperson could not be reached immediately for comment on the letter.

Report by David Lawder in Washington; Edited by Matthew Lewis and Himani Sarkar

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