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Via Scott Wright
Scottish and United Kingdom According to a leading whisky distiller, parliamentarians must do more to end tariffs that have a devastating effect on single malt exports to the U.S.
After its imposition in October 2019, the 25 percent import tariff levied by the Trump administration – part of a long-running trade dispute between the U.S. and the European Union over aircraft subsidies – has cost the Scotch whisky industry hundreds of millions of pounds in lost exports.
U.S. Election Win President-elect Joe Biden has boosted expectations that Washington will move away from the protectionist stance of Donald Trump.
And there were promising signals just before Christmas when Trump’s trade chief announced that the outgoing U.S. administration was negotiating a mini-agreement with the U.K. That could pave the way for a reduction in single-malt tariffs. According to rumors, this could happen before a complete trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K. is achieved.
But Scotch whisky veteran Billy Walker continues to feel that the issue should be addressed with more vigor by politicians on this side of the Atlantic.
“Mr. Walker, majority shareholder in GlenAllachie’s Speyside distillery, said the hopes of the Scotch whisky industry for an end to tariffs depend on how creative and persuasive UK parliamentarians are, “and I see nothing in Westminster or Holyrood that convinces me that adequate effort is being made to eliminate the burden in the States from single malt whisky tariffs.
Mr. Walker said, “In my opinion, there’s just not enough energy being put into it.”
He added, “Do I believe that Biden is going to make a difference?” I think it will take some time for him to realize what he has inherited.
Mr. Walker, who took over GlenAllachie in 2017 with longtime business colleagues Trisha Savage and Graham Stevenson, said it was “completely unbelievable” that U.K. and Scottish leaders were not more focused on the topic of tariffs, but agreed that Brexit had hijacked attention. Walker sai sai demanded his reaction to the Brexit deal unveiled on Christmas Eve by the U.K. and the EU.
Are they a decent deal? Any deal is better than no deal,” he said. “So from our point of view, the plus side is that it’s nice to have no tariffs. But that’s the drawback to be outside the single market – it means more regulatory paperwork.
Walker said he is “confident” that the increased red tape that Brexit would bring will be handled by his company, adding that the Scotch whisky industry will depend on its export experience to countries outside the EU. He said, “It’s not something that’s new to us,” “It’s something that’s a little unwelcome, but it’s not a barrier we can’t overcome or won’t find a way around.”
Mr. Walker, who founded the BenRiach Distillery Business until it was sold for £ 285 million in 2016 to U.S. giant Brown-Forman, said he was shocked at how well GlenAllachie performed during the pandemic.
Although the whisky industry has been significantly limited in its ability to sell in the hospitality industry, distilleries such as GlenAllachie have benefited from spending money on vacations and entertainment in the hospitality industry by customers around the world, even though travel retail revenues have been impacted.
He said, “It was a surprise how well business did during what was an extremely difficult time for consumers.”
However, Mr Walker, a trained chemist who previously held positions at Inver House Distillers, Ballantine’s and Burn Stewart Distillers, is aware that, amid expectations that unemployment will continue to increase as 2021 begins, more economic pain is coming.
He said, “I don’t think that the harm caused by the virus has fully affected the employment of people yet.”
“But we always hope that what happens with vaccination will give people confidence again, and not just people confidence, but businesses confidence to trust their employees and keep them on board.”
“Mr. Walker added, “We have