The Scotch Whisky Association has launched a campaign urging consumers to write to their MPs to press for action to fight US tariffs on whisky imports.

The Call Time on Tariffs campaign is a response to the imposition of a 25% tariff on shipments of single malt Scotch whisky to the US market introduced last October.

The SWA said the tariff had resulted in the loss of £200 million in whisky exports since, a fall of 30%.

It said the situation was becoming more serious with the Trump administration threatening to raise existing tariffs or introduce new ones on blended Scotch and British gin later this summer. 

The SWA wants the UK government to use the opportunity of the current UK-US Free Trade Agreement negotiations to discuss trade disputes and the removal of tariffs. 

It fears that the combined impact of tariffs and the effects of Covd-19 on the economy could lead to job losses in the whisky industry and the supply chain. 

The SWA also supports the removal by the UK of the EU tariff on American whiskey as soon as the Brexit transition ends at the end of this year. The EU tariff was introduced in retaliation for the US imposition of tariffs on imported steel in 2018.

The tariffs on both sides were an escalation of a longstanding dispute between the EU and US on subsidies to the aircraft industry.

SWA chief executive Karen Betts said “Tariffs are a clear and present danger to Scotch whisky. 

“They are hitting our industry hard, with exports to the US now down 30% and producers across the board feeling the pinch – which has only been made worse by the impact of the coronavirus on our global exports and sales.

“The UK must use the opportunity of ongoing trade talks with the US to work out what each side needs to do to resolve their differences and bring an end to tariffs. 

“The damage being inflicted on unrelated sectors such as Scotch, shortbread and cashmere, as well as on American whiskey, is simply unjustifiable. We are paying a heavy price for trade disputes that have nothing to do with us.  

“Scotch whisky is a wonderful thing – in its diversity, its heritage, its timelessness and its global appeal. 

“Now we need our supporters to root for us and to tell governments that disputes between aircraft manufacturers should remain between aircraft manufacturers, and that traditional Scottish businesses should be left to thrive and trade in open markets, to the benefit of our businesses, our employees, our communities and our supply chain.”