Scotch whisky has endured £500m of export losses because of a trade dispute not of its making, according to industry figures.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said shipments of single malt to the United States had fallen by more than a third since the Trump administration imposed a 25% tariff on the tipple in October 2019.
It fell under a range of European products targeted as part of a historical row over government subsidies given to European aerospace firm Airbus and to US plane maker Boeing.
The SWA said that the additional costs, designed to make a product less attractive to buyers, meant distillers were “continuing to pay the price for an aerospace dispute that has nothing to do” with them.
UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced last summer that she was making a renewed effort to get the tariffs on whisky lifted as the US presidential election loomed but hopes of a trade agreement faltered when Joe Biden won and time for a deal ran out ahead of the transition.
The SWA appealed on Tuesday for a concerted new effort to remove the barrier through dialogue on the subsidies issue with the US government.
It also called for a cut to excise duty in the March budget to help offset industry losses.
SWA chief executive, Karen Betts, said: “The current situation is unsustainable.
“Since tariffs were put in place, our exports to the US have fallen by 35%, amounting to over half a billion pounds in lost exports.
“This is being borne by large and small producers alike, who are losing sales and market share in what has been for decades the industry’s largest and most valuable market, which they may never now recover.”
A Department for International Trade spokesperson responded: “The Secretary of State for International Trade has led intensive talks with the US to get these unfair tariffs on UK exports removed.
“We will continue to push hard for a resolution that works for the whole of the UK – including our brilliant Scotch whisky producers.
“We have a clear strategy in place to de-escalate the dispute and we will work with the new US administration at the earliest opportunity to find a solution.”
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