Whisky bosses are urging the public to back a campaign to “call time” on punitive US on trade tariffs.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is calling for decisive action from the UK government to “defend whisky” and get Donald Trump’s 25% tariffs removed as soon as possible.
President Trump imposed the tariffs in October in retaliation to the European Union’s illegal subsidies to plane-maker Airbus.
Boris Johnson has raised the issue with President Trump, but industry bosses are calling for Downing Street to go further.
The SWA wants the UK government to use the opportunity of the current UK-US trade negotiations to discuss 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.
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 benefited 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.
Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, 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.”
She added: “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.”