Biden suspends the 25% tariff on Scotch
Whisky imposed by Donald Trump in the
long-running row over state subsidies
for planemakers Airbus and Boeing.
The Scotch whisky industry will be
raising a glass to President Joe Biden
today as yesterday he agreed to a
four-month suspension of the 25%
retaliatory tariffs imposed on Scotch
whisky by the U.S. administration under
former President Donald Trump.
The multi-billion dollar tit-for-tat
tariff battle involving the United
States, the European Union and Britain
relates to a long-running row over state
subsidies for planemakers Airbus and
Boeing. Britain is party to the dispute
as a former member of the EU and maker
of key Airbus components. The tariff was
imposed by Trump in October 2019 which
lead to more than a 30% fall in Scotch
Whisky exports to the U.S., in money
terms this was a hit of over half a
billion pounds to the Scotch Whisky
Scotch Whisky is one of Scotland’s and
the UK’s most important industries. It
employs 11,000 people in Scotland,
and the sector’s supply chain supports
40,000 jobs throughout the UK. Scotch is
worth over £5.5bn to the UK economy.
Coupled with the impact of COVID-19, the
damage that the Trump imposed tariffs
have been causing were
destined to to lead to job losses both
here in the UK and US.
Whisky fans, especially in the US, were
destined to see their choices diminish,
and favourite products could have become
harder to find under the 25% tariffs
imposed under Donald Trump. Whisky
tariffs are also bad for Scotland’s
local communities that rely on free
trade with the US to boost the economy.
The tariff's have meant that Scotch has
lost market share in the US, which
cannot be recovered overnight, but the
sooner a permanent trade agreement with
the US is put in place the better for
jobs and whisky drinkers on both sides
of the water.
"The United Kingdom and the United
States are undertaking a four-month
tariff suspension to ease the burden on
industry and take a bold, joint step
towards resolving the longest running
disputes at the World Trade
Organization," a joint statement said
"This will allow time to focus on
negotiating a balanced settlement to the
disputes, and begin seriously addressing
the challenges posed by new entrants to
the civil aviation market from
non-market economies, such as China."
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki
said the decision would give both sides
time to work out a solution.
"It was meant to de-escalate the issue
and create space for a negotiated
settlement to the Airbus and Boeing
disputes," she told a White House
The tariff truce is separate from
broader U.S.-UK talks on a post-Brexit
trade agreement, but sends a positive
signal about those discussions. Psaki
declined to say if the U.S.-UK tariff
deal foreshadowed a similar truce with
Britain and the United States were
hoping to reach a trade deal before the
expiration of fast-track trade promotion
authority granted to the U.S. federal
government by Congress in July. To hit
that deadline, U.S. trade officials
would have to notify Congress about a
likely trade deal sometime in April.
Ivan Menezes, CEO of Diageo, the maker
of Johnnie Walker and Talisker whisky,
said a permanent solution would help
safeguard thousands of jobs across
Scotland and the rest of Britain.
The agreement to lift tariffs is
temporary and applies only to UK goods.
U.S. tariffs will continue to apply to
EU goods, according to a U.S.
A British official described it as a
"real win" which justified a British
decision to diverge from EU policy after
Brexit and ditch tariffs in hopes of
reaching an agreement with the Trump
administration before it left office.
At the time, the EU questioned whether
Britain had the legal right to keep
those tariffs in place after leaving the
"I am delighted to say that our American
allies – under their new President and
his hard-working staff at the U.S. Trade
Representative - have embraced our move
to seek a fair settlement," she said.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s top trade
nominee, Katherine Tai, is headed to
confirmation by the full Senate next
She told the Senate Finance Committee
last month that Washington had completed
four rounds of negotiations with Britain
since announcing the start of talks. She
said she would make it a priority to
resolve the aircraft subsidy dispute.
Tai, asked if she would prioritise an
agreement with Britain, told the
committee in written responses to
questions released this week that
Britain was "an important trading
partner and ally".
The Distilled Spirits Council of the
United States welcomed Thursday’s
decision but said it was disappointed
that British tariffs on U.S. whiskey
relating to a separate dispute over
steel were still being applied.
So if you are in the US, at least for
the next four months you will
not be hit by this 25% tariff imposed by
Donald Trump and going forward I am sure
that a fair and sensible agreement will
now be reached under President Joe
If you fancy raising a glass to toast a
new deal you will find an outstanding
selection of Scotch whisky available from specialist
online whisky retailers such as