US and EU end tariffs for five years

In a statement yesterday (15 June), US trade representative ambassador Katherine Tai confirmed the agreement, calling it “significant progress” towards ending the years-long Boeing-Airbus feud. The trade war between the European Union (EU) and the US is part of a 16-year spat between aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing. In 2019, the US government imposed tariffs on US$7.5 billion worth of EU goods, including single malt Scotch and single malt Irish whiskey, because of the ongoing disagreement.

In October 2020, the World Trade Organization (WTO) sanctioned the EU to impose tariffs on almost US$4bn worth of US products, including a 25% import tax on rum, brandy, vodka and vermouth from the US. The 25% EU tariff on US rum, brandy and vodka has been suspended, as well as the 25% US tariff on liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy and Spain, and certain Cognacs and other grape brandies from France and Germany, the latter of which was implemented in January 2021.

In March 2021, the two nations agreed to a mutual four-month suspension of tariffs. The five-year suspension has been welcomed by a number of trade groups, including the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus). “The five-year suspension of these tariffs on distilled spirits is happening at a critical time for the US hospitality industry,” said Chris Swonger, president and CEO of Discus. “We appreciate the Biden administration’s work to reset relationships with our trade allies.” He added that the move will also help the on-trade and craft distillers recover from the pandemic.

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