John­son in plea to Trump over tar­iffs on whisky

Ex­ports: Bid to help drink and cloth­ing sales to US

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY DANIEL O’DONOGHUE

Boris John­son has urged Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to lift puni­tive tar­iffs on whisky and cloth­ing after in­dus­try bosses said they were start­ing to “feel the strain”.

The US im­posed 25% tar­iffs on Bri­tish food and drink ex­ports last month as re­tal­i­a­tion for the EU’s il­le­gal sub­si­dies to plane­maker Air­bus.

The Scotch Whisky As­so­ci­a­tion (SWA) has said the in­dus­try risks los­ing as much as 20% of its sales to the US, worth £1 bil­lion, in the next 12 months.

Mr John­son raised the mat­ter in a call with the pres­i­dent on Tues­day night.

A Down­ing Street source said: “The prime min­is­ter urged the pres­i­dent to lift tar­iffs on goods in­clud­ing Scotch whisky and, ahead of a US de­ci­sion on ad­di­tional tar­iffs, urged him not to im­pose tar­iffs on car ex­ports.”

The talks came as spec­u­la­tion grew that Mr John­son would an­nounce a spirit duty re­view while vis­it­ing a dis­tillery in Mo­ray to­day to try to off­set the costs of the tar­iffs.

Karen Betts, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the SWA, said: “It’s very im­por­tant the 25% tar­iff is re­moved, not least since Scotch whisky is pay­ing 62% of the UK’s tar­iff li­a­bil­ity – a bill that is not ours to pay.

“We have been clear that tar­iffs must be lifted be­fore US-UK ne­go­ti­a­tions be­gin on a trade deal. Not to do so would sell our in­dus­try short.

“Mean­time, the Scotch whisky in­dus­try and its sup­ply chain is feel­ing the strain.

“Smaller pro­duc­ers, many of whom only pro­duce sin­gle malt, are be­ing hit the hardest.

“Re­moval of th­ese tar­iffs is our clear pri­or­ity.”

Si­mon Cot­ton, John­stons of El­gin’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, has seen his firm’s cash­mere sales im­pacted.

“We are cur­rently ab­sorb­ing 25% tar­iff on sales of knitwear to the US,” he said.

“Ob­vi­ously this is not some­thing that we can con­tinue in­def­i­nitely.”

Mo­ray MSP Richard Lochhead said: “The main con­cern is the sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the smaller dis­til­leries and on those who rely on the US mar­ket.

“They are very fear­ful for their fu­ture be­cause they ei­ther sim­ply pass the tar­iff on to the price of a bot­tle and lose cus­tomers and com­pet­i­tive­ness or they ab­sorb it and lose profit.”

PRES­SURE: Sin­gle malt whisky sold to the United States now at­tracts a 25% tar­iff as Don­ald Trump ramps up a trade war with the EU

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