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The E.U. Agreed to Droop Tariffs on American Whiskey Till at Least 2025

The E.U. Agreed to Droop Tariffs on American Whiskey Till at Least 2025

American whiskey distilleries have something to celebrate this holiday season with the announcement that the suspension of European Union tariffs on their spirits will be extended through 2025. Who knows what the political landscape will look like a year and a half from now, but in the short term this means that U.S. spirits exports will continue to make their way into the European market with less of a financial toll on the producers who distill and age them.

This all started back in 2018 when the Trump administration imposed a tariff on steel and aluminum imports from the E.U. and other nations. In response, the E.U. instituted a 25 percent tariff on American whiskey. This was a very impactful, if not disastrous, blow to the American whiskey industry, and according to the Distilled Spirits Council exports to the E.U. (the biggest American whiskey market) fell by 20 percent in the period from 2018 to 2021, a loss of about $112 million.

Under the Biden administration, however, that tariff was suspended for two years beginning in January of 2022. That pause was set to expire at the end of this year with the tariff then increasing to 50 percent, so this extension is a welcome reprieve. And the numbers don’t lie: Exports of American whiskey to the E.U. have surpassed pre-tariff levels over the past two years, and were up 64 percent from 2022 to 2023. With the recent news that American whiskey sales are being outpaced by agave spirits here in the U.S., key export markets are more important than ever, and the E.U. seems to be thirsty for bourbon and rye whiskey (American single malt still has a long way to go).

“We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Biden administration to secure an extended suspension of the E.U.’s retaliatory tariffs on American whiskeys,” said Distilled Spirits Council president & CEO Chris Swonger in a statement this week. “This agreement is welcome news for U.S. distillers across the country who were facing the reimposition and doubling of the E.U. tariff to 50 percent in the new year.” He went on to urge the Biden administration to permanently end the imposition of tariffs that arise from disputes unrelated to spirits, with the hope that this situation won’t come up again when the new extension ends in March of 2025. There is so much uncertainty about how the next two years will play out, but American distilleries are hopeful that whiskey won’t be a political casualty.

Source: Robb Report

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