The Biden administration this week announced that it will be suspending some Trump-era tariffs on goods from the U.K., in an easing of the trade war that has existed for several years and revolves around subsidies for the aviation industry—specifically Boeing and Airbus. But the real cause for celebration will likely be a forthcoming reduction in scotch whisky prices in the U.S., as whisky imported from Scotland will no longer be subject to a significant, 25% tariff as it has been in the last few years. Assuming the distillers and retailers pass those savings on to the customer, it will hopefully mean that scotch prices are able to become more competitive with American whiskey. In a joint statement, the U.S. and U.K. said the tariff suspension, going both ways, would “ease the burden on industry and take a bold, joint step towards resolving the longest running disputes at the World Trade Organization.”
The tariffs, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, have contributed to an outsized reduction of scotch whisky consumption in the U.S., while the consumption of American whiskey in the U.K. has plummeted during the same period. According to the Scotch Whisky Association, the past year has been a difficult trial for the Scottish whisky industry, losing ground in one of its most important export markets.
“This is fabulous news, and our industry is delighted,” said Scotch Whisky Association Chief Executive Karen Betts. “The tariff on single malt Scotch whisky exports to the US has been doing real damage to Scotch whisky in the 16 months it has been in place, with exports to the US falling by 35%.”
For now, the tariffs will be suspended for four months while the two sides seek a longer and more permanent compromise. Here’s hoping you start to see the difference on U.S. package store shelves in the near future.