Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has said the announcement by the UK Government that it is taking an “independent” approach to longstanding trade conflicts between the EU and the US could spell good news for the local Scotch whisky industry.
The Scottish Conservative MSP said: “The prospect that the UK will suspend retaliatory tariffs resulting from the Boeing/Airbus dispute could mean that the US drops the retaliatory tariffs on Scotch whisky."
“Given that Scotch Whisky exports to the US fell by over 30% in the past year, that would spell extremely good news for jobs and investment across the Highlands and Islands where our distilleries make a major contribution to the local economy.”
The EU and the US have been engaged in a protracted dispute over subsidies to airlines, with outgoing US President Donald Trump imposing charges on imports including Scotch whisky and cashmere. In return, the EU has placed tariffs on $4billion worth of US products.
UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss has said the UK will suspend retaliatory tariffs resulting the Boeing/Airbus dispute. The move is an attempt to bring the US towards a reasonable settlement and show the UK is serious about reaching a negotiated outcome.
Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association Karen Betts said:
“This is a very encouraging step by the UK Government and we welcome it. It shows the UK Government’s determination to de-escalate the damaging transatlantic trade disputes that have seen Scotch Whisky exports to the US fall by over 30% in the past year. We now call on the US Government to reciprocate by suspending the tariffs on UK goods stemming from the Airbus/Boeing dispute, so that industries in the UK and the US affected by this dispute can once again trade freely."
“The US Government’s removal of Airbus retaliation on Scotch could, in turn, justify the UK removing tariffs on US whiskey under the steel and aluminium dispute. Moves such as these pave the way for both governments to intensify efforts to reach a final resolution to both the Airbus/Boeing and steel and aluminium disputes, which have caused real disruption to businesses and raised costs for consumers in both countries."
“It is encouraging that the UK Government is making use of the flexibility of an independent trade policy to help find solutions to issues that, in Scotch Whisky’s case, are damaging our global exports. We hope that this marks the beginning of the end of trade tensions with the US.”
The Airbus/Boeing dispute
In 2019 the WTO Appellate Body, the final court of appeal at the WTO definitively ruled that the US has continued to unlawfully subsidise aircraft manufacturer Boeing, causing significant harm to Airbus.
The WTO’s ruling in this 16 year-long dispute confirms that the United States has not complied with obligations to withdraw subsidies previously declared illegal by the WTO Appellate Body in 2012, adversely affecting the UK and EU aerospace industry.
Following the findings, last month the EU was authorised in a WTO arbitration and has gone on to place retaliatory tariffs on $4 billion worth of US products in the Boeing dispute.