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Bipartisan Call for End to Tariffs on Bourbon, Distilled Spirits
Kentucky Ag Connection - 04/07/2021

U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Andy Barr (R-KY), co-chairs of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus, led a bipartisan letter calling on Katherine Tai, President Biden's newly-confirmed U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), to work with the EU and UK to immediately suspend tariffs on American Whiskey. Yarmuth and Barr's letter, signed by 48 of their colleagues in the House, cites the recent decline in U.S. bourbon exports and the brutal impact the tariffs have had on all distilled spirits and wine, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"These tariffs have damaged what had been a great American export success story for many years," the Members write to Tai. "American Whiskey exports to the EU, our largest export market, grew from $502 million in 2008 to $702 million in 2018, an increase of 40 percent. Since the tariffs were imposed, our American Whiskey exports to the EU have declined by 37 percent and to the UK by 53 percent."

Some tariffs have been temporarily suspended as the Administration works to resolve an ongoing WTO aircraft dispute, but the Members urge Tai to work with her counterparts to remove all tariffs affecting distilled spirits and wine. The current 25 percent EU and UK tariff imposed on American Whiskey, in effect since June of 2018, is currently set to double to 50 percent on June 1.

"We hope that the recent agreements to temporarily suspend tariffs that were imposed in connection to the WTO large civil aircraft subsidy dispute will lead to the prompt removal of all tariffs on U.S., EU, and UK wine and distilled spirits. The suspension of tariffs is happening at a critical time for the U.S. hospitality industry and the beverage alcohol sector. Permanently lifting the tariff burden will also support the recovery of restaurants, bars and small craft distilleries across that country that were forced to shut down their businesses during the pandemic."

Supporting the effort also were Brett Guthrie, Scott DesJarlais, M.D., Brian Fitzpatrick, Joseph D. Morelle, Mike Gallagher, David Trone, Peter Welch, James Comer, Salud O. Carbajal, Dina Titus, Matt Cartwright, Robert J. Wittman, Thomas Massie, Kathleen M. Rice, Julia Brownley, Tom Cole, Jennifer Wexton, Stacey E. Plaskett, Hal Rogers, James P. McGovern, Darrell Issa, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Glenn "GT" Thompson, Jimmy Panetta, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Chuck Fleischmann, Jim Cooper, Diana Harshbarger, James R. Baird, Marie Newman, Scott Franklin, Scott Perry, Lucy McBath, Mark E. Green, M.D., Tim Burchett, Alcee L. Hastings, Steve Chabot, Greg Stanton, Carlos A. Gimenez, Bradley S. Schneider, Gus M. Bilirakis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Antonio Delgado, W. Gregory Steube, Jake LaTurner, Bill Pascrell Jr., John Rose and MarĂ­a Elvira Salazar.

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