Scotch whisky targeted by new US tariffs

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Scotch whisky is among the products targeted by the US for a possible range of new tariffs on imported goods.

The US has threatened to impose tariffs on European Union imports worth up to $4bn (£3.2bn), although it is not known when tariffs would be imposed.

Whiskey from Ireland, cheeses including Parmesan and Gouda, pasta and olives are other items affected.

The US Trade Representative said it was "in response to harm caused by EU aircraft subsidies".

The moves are part of a 15-year dispute at the World Trade Organization between the US and EU over subsidies given to plane-makers Airbus, from Europe, and the US's Boeing.

The United States is the world's largest export market for Scotch whisky by value - £1.04bn in 2018. By volume, it is the second largest, with 137 million 70cl bottles exported last year.

A spokesperson for the Scotch Whisky Association told the BBC: "Exports of Scotch whisky to the US have been zero tariff for 20 years, so it is disappointing that Scotch whisky has been drawn into this dispute.

"The Scotch whisky industry has consistently opposed the imposition of tariffs, which harms economies on both sides of the Atlantic which depend on trade for their continued prosperity.

"There is a close relationship between the US whiskies and Scotch whisky, not least due to the use of bourbon casks for maturation which generates around £70m for the US economy each year.

"We continue to urge the UK government, the EU and the US government to resolve this situation."

Scotch whisky makes up 12% of the total whiskey market in the United States, with US whiskey accounting for 48%.

'Negative impact'

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States warned that the move may harm both jobs and consumers in the country.

"We strongly oppose the inclusion of distilled products in the proposed retaliation list," said spokeswoman Lisa Hawkins.

"US companies - from farmers to suppliers to retailers - are already being negatively impacted by the imposition of retaliatory tariffs by key trading partners on certain US distilled spirits.

"These additional tariffs will only inflict further harm," she said.

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