International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has welcomed Washington’s decision to also refrain from slapping tariffs on imports of gin and blended whiskey. But she stressed that the United States still applies tariffs on products such as Scotch single malt and promised to step up efforts to pressure U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to lift punitive taxes at the border.
Shanker Singham, CEO of commercial law consultancy Competere, congratulated Ms Truss on the government’s latest announcement.
Mr Singham, government trade adviser, tweeted: ‘Congratulations to Liz Truss on a big win here. But as she notes more to come… ”
Ms Truss met with Mr Lighthizer in Washington last week for trade negotiations.
Tariffs imposed on UK products are part of a long-standing trade dispute with the EU.
Mr Lighthizer announced that Washington would not go ahead with a threat of an extension of the tariff regime that would have hit more UK products such as gin and blended whiskey.
In a “modest” tariff easing, Lighthizer said on Wednesday that products such as shortbread would now be phased out as the two sides continue to seek a resolution of the dispute over EU subsidies to aircraft maker Airbus.
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“As a result, the United States will begin a new process with the EU with the aim of reaching a deal that will address behavior that has harmed the US aviation industry and workers and ensure a level playing field for business.” American. ”
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has warned that the remaining tariffs pose a serious threat to jobs in Moray and Speyside.
He said: “Confirmation that the 25 percent tariff on Scotch whiskey exports to the United States should remain in place will be a blow to the industry and will have a disproportionate effect on Speyside.
“Since the tariffs went into effect last October, we know that Scotch Whiskey exports have dropped significantly, which means big losses for businesses, made worse by the impact of COVID-19.
“Unfortunately for Moray, it’s not just our whiskey industry that is affected, with tariffs still in place for cashmere products. ”
Mr Lochhead said wool and cashmere maker Johnstons of Elgin faces “enormous challenges” because of the tariffs.
He added: “The only good news for Moray is the removal of tariffs on shortbread, which brings much-needed relief to local businesses like Walkers and Macleans. “
He criticized the UK government for being “slow to act” and said ministers had simply turned a blind eye to the tariff issue.
He said: “It seems that for ministers in the UK government this has been a case out of sight.
“I can’t help but think that if this was something that put jobs at risk in the City of London then it would have been seen as a much higher priority. “