Trump threatens new EU tariffs that would hit Irish whiskey exports

The Trump administration has threatened to slap $4bn (€3.54bn) in tariffs on a new list of EU goods – and Ireland’s lucrative exports of whiskey to the US would feel the burn.

The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) overnight identified nearly 100 categories of European products that could face tariffs if the EU doesn’t meet US trade demands. The hit list includes “Irish and Scotch whiskies”.

The Irish Whiskey Association, which represents some two dozen distilleries across Ireland, said it would submit “detailed comments” to the USTR in hopes of keeping whiskey flowing freely to America.

“The Irish whiskey industry opposes the imposition of tariffs, which harms distillers and businesses both in Ireland and in the US,” the association said. “Any tariffs imposed on Irish whiskey entering the US market will negatively impact investment and employment in both jurisdictions.

“We urge both sides to continue to strive to achieve a mutually acceptable solution to this issue and to avoid imposing barriers to trade which will ultimately adversely impact businesses and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic,” it said.

Whiskey is Ireland’s top drinks export and the United States is by far its biggest export market. Bord Bia says whiskey represented 60pc of the €567m in beverage exports to the US last year. Whiskey sales grew by 9pc from 2017 to €340m. In its recent ‘Export Performance and Prospects for 2018-2019’ report, Bord Bia forecast that strong growth in US whiskey exports this year “shows no signs of abating”.

The Trump administration in April published plans to impose up to $21bn (€18.6bn) in tariffs on EU goods as part of a 15-year conflict between US and EU trade negotiators over state subsidies paid to rival aerospace giants Boeing and Airbus. The April list excluded whiskey.

Neither of this year’s tariff threats comes with fixed dates when they might take effect. The US in May 2018 did impose a 25pc tariff on European steel and 10pc on its aluminium imports.

Monday night’s list published in Washington includes a wide range of European industrial goods and foods. Joining whiskey on the shelf of newly threatened EU products are hams and other pork goods; coffee and juices; dairy-based spreads and milk-based fats and oils; Italian, Gruyere, Edam and Gouda cheeses; olives and pasta, and even waffles and wafers.

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