An End to U.S. / E.U. Alcohol Tariffs?

French-wine lovers rejoice, after a 16-year trade dispute between the U.S. and E.U., the governments have reached an agreement to drop tariffs on certain imported wine and spirits.

The tariffs aren’t gone for good, the agreement stipulates only a five-year hiatus and doesn’t provide relief for every one and every beverage, but it is a step forward. Two outliers from this deal are distillers and vintners in the U.K. and, specifically, American whiskey.

The U.K.’s current lack of involvement is an easy one to recognize; they are no longer a member of the E.U. And, they are currently in negotiation for a separate, similar agreement. But American whiskey tariffs remaining in place might seem oddly specific and surprising to some. Alas, the new agreement addresses retaliatory tariffs on wine and spirits as related to the aerospace industry and American whiskey tariffs are due to an ongoing dispute over steel and aluminum.

Despite its limitations, industry groups on both sides of the Atlantic are praising the agreement. As a vaccinated America begins to reopen, the access to and savings on swaths of alcoholic beverages and even plenty of foods will be invaluable to the recovery of the U.S. hospitality industry.

And, as the American spirits industry continues to grapple with the 25 percent tariff on American whiskey due to Trump’s 2018 steel and aluminum tariffs, the U.S. and E.U. have issued a statement indicating they hope to resolve that dispute before year’s end.

At Skolnik, we’re so happy our food, beverage and hospitality partners are able to start reopening and recovering from pandemic related closures and are excited to see and support them on their journey. We’re looking forward to a safe and sunny summer.