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Trade war cuts US whiskey sales to EU

February 15, 2020 00:00:00

NEW YORK, Feb 14 (AFP): Europeans have developed a taste for American whiskey over the past decade but trade disputes have slashed US exports of the booze, an American trade group said Wednesday.

Washington and Brussels are in the midst of a multifaceted trade feud that included punitive US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and the EU retaliating in June 2018 by slapping a 25 per cent tax on some US goods, notably bourbon.

That took a chunk out of US whiskey exports to Europe last year, which fell by 27 per cent, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) said.

US spirit exports worldwide fell by 14 per cent in 2019, according to the council.

Renewed interest in Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey - which unlike Scotch whisky is made from corn - drove a 55 per cent increase in spirits over the past 10 years.

"These great American Whiskey products that have been the toast of the global cocktail scene are struggling under the weight of the EU tariffs," DISCUS President Chris Swonger said in a statement.

Amid another trade dispute over European subsidies to Airbus, the US in October imposed 25 per cent tariffs on single-malt whisky from Scotland, and wine from France and Spain.

US officials say they are considering raising their tariffs to as much as 100 per cent, and could widen the penalty list to add popular items such as cognac. DISCUS expects a decision on that by the end of this week.

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