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Government asked about US tariffs on Scotch whisky

7 October 2019

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The Minister of State (Department for International Trade), Conor Burns, answered an urgent question from David Mundell MP on the increased US tariffs on Scotch whisky.

The United States trade representative has announced that on 18 October 2019, 24 per cent tariffs on single-malt Scotch whisky and other UK goods will be imposed. David Mundell MP asked what discussions the Government has held with the European Union and the US on this subject.

The Minister, Conor Burns MP, acknowledged the economic strain that these tariffs would place on Scotch whisky producers, and assured the House that discussions with officials from the US were taking place.

He told MPS:

"Single-malt Scotch whisky has been tariff-free with the united states for more than twenty-five years now, and whisky imports to the US are worth more than £1 billion pounds annually. Single malt producers, Mr Speaker, are often small- and medium-sized companies, and these tariffs will hit those who can afford them least. We will continue to talk to the US at the highest levels and to press for a settlement, and for the US to hold off applying these tariffs."

David Mundell MP, responded by emphasising the strain these tariffs would place on rural Scottish communities. He suggested that a solution may be to assure the US that tariffs on American bourbon will not be raised after Britain leaves the EU, and asked the Minister if the Prime Minister could directly intervene by engaging in a dialogue with President Trump.

He said:

"These distilleries that are involved in exporting malt to the United States are often small, they're often some of the craft distilleries which we've particularly welcomed in Scotland being established in recent years, and if these tariffs are imposed those industries will have to scale back their efforts in the United States. And the estimation from the industry is that there could be a loss of £228 million in revenue and 3000 jobs, mainly in rural Scotland, affected by these proposals. So I want to urge the Government to show even more urgency than they have to date."

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