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UPDATE 1-Britain to step up challenge over U.S. whisky tariff

Thu, 13th Aug 2020 08:29

(Adds UK statement, background)

LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Britain said it would step up
demands for the United States to drop tariffs on goods such as
single malt Scotch whisky after the industry warned a decision
by Washington to retain the levy was putting its future at risk.

The U.S. government on Wednesday said it would maintain 15%
tariffs on Airbus aircraft and 25% tariffs on other
European goods as part of a long-running trade dispute, although
it held off adding some extra tariffs as it had threatened.

British Trade Secretary Liz Truss welcomed the absence of
new tariffs, but said she had raised the whisky issue with her
U.S. counterpart Robert Lighthizer during talks last week and
she would now go further.

"These tariffs damage industry and livelihoods on both sides
of the Atlantic and are in nobody's interests," she said in a
statement on Thursday. "I am therefore stepping up talks with
the U.S. to remove them as soon as possible."

After leaving the European Union earlier this year Britain
is trying to tie up swift trade deals with major partners like
the United States to capitalise on its new freedom to strike
bilateral deals rather than EU-wide ones.

But Britain has still been affected by a decision from
Washington to impose tariffs on an array of EU food, wine and
spirits in retaliation for EU subsidies on large aircraft.

The Scotch Whisky Association said exports to the U.S. had
fallen 30% since the tariff came into force and jobs and the
supply chain were at risk.

"It has taken the UK government a full six months after the
UK left the EU to start to tackle tariffs directly with the U.S.
government, which seems to us inexplicably slow," Chief
Executive Karen Betts said.

She urged London to do more to support the industry.

"Scotch Whisky is a crucial part of Scotland's economy,
employing over 11,000 people and many more than that through our
supply chain, in some of the UK's most productive jobs," she
said.
($1 = 0.7647 pounds)
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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