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03 October 2019

SWA statement on US Tariffs for Scotch Whisky

SWA statement on US Tariffs for Scotch Whisky
The SWA responds to US import tariffs on Scotch Whisky.

Karen Betts, Chief Executive of the SWA said:

“We are very disappointed that the United States Government has announced a tariff of 25% on imports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Liqueurs from the UK. This is a blow to the Scotch Whisky industry.  Despite the fact that this dispute is about aircraft subsidies, our sector has been hit hard, with Single Malt Scotch Whisky representing over half of the total value of UK products on the US Government tariff list (amounting to over $460 million).

“The tariff will undoubtedly damage the Scotch Whisky sector. The US is our largest and most valuable single market, and over £1 billion of Scotch Whisky was exported there last year.  The tariff will put our competitiveness and Scotch Whisky’s market share at risk.  We are also concerned that it will disproportionately impact smaller producers.  We expect to see a negative impact on investment and job creation in Scotland, and longer term impacts on productivity and growth across the industry and our supply chain.  We believe the tariff will also have a cumulative impact on consumer choice.   

“The Scotch Whisky industry has consistently argued against the imposition of tariffs in our sector.  For the last 25 years, trade in spirits between Europe and the US has been tariff-free. In that time, exports of Scotch Whisky to the US and of American Whiskey to the UK and Europe have grown significantly, benefitting communities on both sides of the Atlantic, boosting investment, employment and prosperity for all.  For this reason, the Scotch Whisky Association - alongside American and European spirits producers - has urged the EU and the US not to draw spirits into trade disputes that have nothing to do with our sector.

"We believe it is imperative that the EU and US now take urgent action to de-escalate the trade disputes that have given rise to these tariffs, to ensure that these latest tariffs are not implemented on 18 October, and to ensure that other tariffs – including on the export of American Whiskey to the EU – are removed quickly. In particular, the UK government must now work with both sides to urge a negotiated settlement and to ensure that these damaging tariffs do not take effect.”



The value of Scotch Whisky exports to the US grew from £280m in 1994 to over £1bn last year (Source: HMRC)

By value, 33% of Scotch Whisky exports to the US in 2018 were Single Malts (a value of £344 million, or $463 million).

The US market accounted for 22% of global value, and 10.7% of global volumes of Scotch Whisky exports in 2018. (Source: HMRC, SWA analysis)

137 million bottles of Scotch Whisky were exported to the US in 2018: that's more than 4 bottles per second (Source: HMRC, SWA analysis)

The Scotch Whisky industry directly employs about 11,000 people in Scotland, and many more indirectly through its supply chain. Over 7,000 of these jobs are in rural areas of Scotland.

For further information please contact the SWA Press Office on (+44)131 222 9200 or email