Scotch Whisky: US Tariff

International Trade – in the House of Commons on 8th October 2020.

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Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution)

What discussions she has had with her US counterpart on that country’s imposition of a 25% tariff on single malt Scotch whisky.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for International Trade

The Government take very seriously the punitive US tariffs on UK goods, including on single malt Scotch whisky. We are fighting for the removal of all such tariffs and are pushing for a negotiated settlement to the underlying World Trade Organisation civil aviation cases. The Secretary of State raised these issues most recently with US trade representative Ambassador Lighthizer in September.

Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution)

Exactly a year ago, the United States imposed 25% tariffs on Scotch malt whisky, devastating exports and threatening thousands of Scottish jobs. Despite the Minister’s Department making the removal of those damaging tariffs a priority, his Government have failed to move their special friend in the White House an inch on these issues. Could he explain exactly why the Scotch whisky industry, apart from being £360 million poorer, is in exactly the same place today as it was a year ago?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for International Trade

I thank the hon. Member for that question. We oppose these tariffs vigorously. We are stepping up talks with the US and we were pleased that in August the US did not extend the tariffs to blended whisky, and actually removed them from shortbread. The irony is that the Scottish National party are urging us to enter into direct trade talks with the US—something that we are already doing, but something that we would not be able to do if we followed its policy of rejoining the European Union. I just remark on the SNP’s chutzpah in urging us to do something to which it is fundamentally opposed: engage directly with the United States on trade policy.