Manufacturers of Scottish whisky expressed concern on Friday at a threat by the United States to increase punitive customs duties on spirits and other goods from Europe.
“This is clearly deeply worrying for our industry,” Scottish whisky Association President Karen Betts said in a press release, recalling that whisky exports have already fallen by over a quarter since October last.
Washington had imposed a first 25% increase in customs duties on European whisky and cheese, along with French wines in October 2019, in retaliation for subsidies granted to European aircraft manufactureur Airbus.
Already hit by that first wave of sanctions, the Scottish whisky industry has seen its exports to the United States further reduced by the novel Coronavirus pandemic, Mrs. Betts explained.
The U.S. administration said on Wednesday that it was thinking of slapping additional punitive duties on some 3.1 billion dollars in European imports, mainly from France, Spain, Germany and Britain. Spirits have been retained on the new hit list, along with olives, coffee, pastries and chocolate.
“The tariffs make Scotch uncompetitive in the U.S. against other spirits and companies are losing sales and market share to competitor products,” Mrs. Betts complained.
“As economies on both sides of the Atlantic struggle to recover from the Coronavirus downturn, now is not the time to hit consumer products once again,” she stressed.
In February, Scotland’s whisky manufacturers had announced a 100-million pound (110 million euro) drop in exports due to the U.S. sanctions.