A new temporary suspension of tariffs set in place in 2019 between the United States and Britain means that certain goods, like Scotch and other whisky drinks imported from the country, are about to get cheaper.
Starting on Monday, the United States will suspend tariffs on direct imports from the United Kingdom for four months. The Scotch Whisky Association has stated that these tariffs have cost the industry over $690 million. Scotch was the UK’s largest food and drink export in 2020. This suspension of tariffs will also reportedly boost the exports of cashmere and cheese.
These tariffs from 2019 were set in motion as a response to the UK putting similar tariffs on Boeing parts, but Britain has also suspended those tariffs last December as a gesture of good faith. Boris Johnson posted a tweet about the removal of tariffs on everything from airplane parts to whisky, stating that they are trying to “strength the UK-US trading relationship and work to build back better from the pandemic.”
Exports of whiskey to the United States sank by 29% in 2019, while exports to the United States have fallen by almost a third. While this suspension of tariffs will hopefully improve those numbers, this suspension doesn’t include American whiskey exports to the United Kingdom. Since this separate tariff was put in place, sales have declined by 53%.
But the Boeing-related tariffs on United States good covers quite a bit more than just whiskey. These tariffs also significantly raised the prices of fish, cheese, fruit, nuts, chocolate, and other various types of alcohol and tobacco. Meanwhile, the United States’ tariffs on UK goods include even more price hikes for milk-based products, meats, olives, seafood, coffee, clothing, and various types of tools.
The United States’ tariffs set in place in 2019 added a 25% tax on wines and whiskeys, and other goods. While there were rumors that the tariffs could hike tax to 100%, these actions were never taken. However, these tariffs have hurt many small businesses, especially in addition to problems brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Johnson states, hopefully, these temporary suspensions of tariffs will help struggling businesses recover somewhat, and could theoretically lead to more permanent cancellation of these tariffs.
As Food & Wine mentions this change in tariffs likely won’t immediately change prices when this goes into effect on Monday. Since stores are already selling products like whiskey and wine that have been affected by the tariffs, this shift could take some time to show a change in prices in the United States. The United States Wine Alliance is also lobbying to receive a refund for products that were in transit before this announcement was made, so it’s possible we could be seeing price changes relatively soon.
Yet considering how hard whiskey, wine, and other industries have been hit by these restrictive tariffs, especially in the middle of a global pandemic, it seems as though the temporary suspension of these tariffs will at least alleviate some worry for small businesses trying to stay above water.