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Liz Truss vows to ‘break the impasse’ with US over ‘unacceptable and unfair’ trade tariffs on Scotch whisky

The Trade Secretary took aim at the United States as well as what she called EU ‘intransigence’ in the transatlantic trade row.

2 min read

Trade secretary Liz Truss has promised to get tough with the United States over “unacceptable and unfair” tariffs on Scotch whisky.

The Cabinet minister said she was “determined to settle the issue as soon as possible” amid warnings that a tit-for-tat trade dispute between the US and European Union is putting jobs at risk in the Scotch whisky industry.

The US government last week said it would maintain 15% tariffs on Airbus aircraft and 25% tariffs on other European goods amid a long-running battle over EU subsidies on aircraft.

The Scotch Whisky Association has condemned the Government’s “inexplicably slow” focus on the tariffs amid ongoing post-Brexit trade talks between Britain and the US.

And it has warned that Scotch whisky exports to the US have tumbled 30% since the tariffs came into force. 

But, writing in The Telegraph, Ms Truss said: “US tariffs on Scotch whisky are unacceptable and unfair.

"I cannot be clearer about that. Whisky-making is one of our great industries and a jewel in our national crown.

“Other excellent businesses including cashmere and salmon have also been hit in a trade war that damages both sides of the Atlantic.”

The Trade Secretary took aim at the United States as well as what she called EU "intransigence" amid the transatlantic spat.

“The EU, with its high tariff wall, has failed to stand up for British interests – and Scottish interests in particular – and has made little progress towards resolving an issue that should have been sorted years ago,” she said.

And Ms Truss added: “I am determined to settle the issue as soon as possible and help our struggling producers.

“While we do have some more powers now, from January 1 we’ll be an independent trading nation once again, with our own tariff regime, and will be able to take direct control of this. 

“The Government is stepping up talks with the US to try and break the impasse, and will be entering into further discussions with my opposite number US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in the coming weeks.”

Ms Truss said the fourth round of UK-US trade negotiations would begin “soon”, with the issue of tariffs set to be “directly” discussed.

And she vowed: “At a time of rising global insecurity, in an era of creeping protectionism and in the midst of a global pandemic, I firmly believe free and fair trade remains the best way forward for the world and for Britain.

“I will fight to consign these unfair tariffs to the bin of history.”

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