JOE Biden’s presidency could offer a new hope, not just for America but for the Scottish whisky industry.
Labour leader Keir Starmer has urged Boris Johnson to ensure the punitive 25 per cent tariffs on whisky imports are the top priority for discussion with the new President of the United States.
Writing exclusively in The , Mr Starmer has criticised the UK government’s “gamble” on securing a mini trade deal with the US before Donald Trump left office, which did not come to fruition.
Keir Starmer: Johnson’s risky bet on Trump trade deal has backfired but Biden gives Scotch whisky a new hope
Mr Starmer made the comments ahead of a meeting with the Scotch Whisky Association today.
He has vowed to work with Mr Johnson to get the tariffs removed, but warned: “We will have to rely on the goodwill of the new Biden administration, as the UK government has already given away some of its bargaining power. ”
In December, the Department for International Trade (DIT) announced it would break from the EU’s position of imposing tariffs on imports of Boeing planes after the end of the Brexit transition period.
Trade secretary Liz Truss was hoping the move would create a positive environment to solve the 16-year-old dispute, but no deal was reached.
Mr Starmer added that the UK Government had made a “very foolish gamble” which had “backfired” saying: “Trump has gone, with no deal agreed. The gamble has very visibly backfired.
“The Scotch whisky industry is still facing 25 per cent tariffs yet the government has thrown away the main leverage they had to get those tariffs removed, with nothing to show for it in return.”
A DIT spokeswoman said Ms Truss had “stepped up” talks with the US “to get these unfair tariffs on UK exports removed.”
She added: “We want to de-escalate and resolve this dispute so that we can deepen trading ties with the US and move onto the next phase of our trading relationship, to the benefit of UK businesses.
“We look forward to working with the new US Administration at the earliest opportunity to find a solution that works for both sides.”
Alongside challenging Mr Johnson to resolve the trade dispute with the US, Mr Starmer also congratulated the new President Biden and his deputy Kamala Harris on their inaugurations yesterday.
He said: “The US begins a new chapter in its history, one of hope, decency, compassion and strength.
“Together, our two nations can build a better, more optimistic future for our world.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also sent congratulations to the pair, saying: ” Congratulations to Joe Biden on being sworn in as President of the United States and to Kamala Harris on her historic inauguration.
Westminster leaders welcome Biden presidency as Keir Starmer hails it as ‘victory for hope over hate’
“America’s leadership is vital on the issues that matter to us all, from climate change to COVID, and I look forward to working with President Biden.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon added:”Warm congratulations and best wishes to President Biden and Vice President Harris.
“Scotland and the USA share long-standing bonds of friendship and co-operation.
“We look forward to building on these in the years ahead.”
In his inauguration speech yesterday, President Biden said it was “democracy’s day”, adding: ” A day in history and hope, of renewal and resolve.”
He said: “The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded.
“We’ve learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
Alongside UK leaders, Ireland’s premier Micheal Martin also sent good wishes to the 46th president, and said his success represented the strong history of ties between Ireland and America.
He said: ” As he takes the oath-of-office, I know that President Biden will feel the weight of history – the presence of his Irish ancestors who left Mayo and Louth in famine times in search of life and hope.
“He will remember their descendants’ hard struggle as they made their way in and their contribution to the United States. It is the story of Irish-America.
“I hope he will also be conscious of the great pride we in Ireland take in his immense achievement. He is one of us, part of our global family.”
Scottish communities ‘will be destroyed’ by crippling Trump whisky tariffs
Donald Trump, who did not attend the inauguration, spoke to supporters after flying from the White House to Florida yesterday afternoon.
He said he would be “back in some form” and told those greeting him: “As the athletes would say, we left it all on the field.
“It has been my greatest honour and privilege to have been your president.”
Mr Trump also wished the “new administration” success, without referring to Mr Biden by name, as he has refused to do since his election victory.