EU pauses new whiskey tariffs, Kentucky bourbon makers breathe sigh of relief
The European Union is holding off on a 50% tariff that was scheduled to hit American whiskey products on January 1st.
Advocates for Kentucky’s signature bourbon industry are cheering a decision to back off of a fast-approaching start date for major new EU tariffs on their products. They warned that the tariffs would deal a "devastating" blow to sales across the pond.
But Tuesday, the EU announced it would be moving that trigger date back to March 2025, giving the US and EU more time to iron out differences.
The EU tariffs were originally a response to Trump-era tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The Biden administration had managed to secure a temporary reprieve, but time was about to run out on the deal — prompting Kentucky lawmakers to push the administration to come to an agreement that would halt or postpone the new taxes.
“Spirits have had a significant cultural impact in our country, and currently have a profound impact on the U.S. economy. In 2022 alone, U.S. distilled spirit exports reached $2.06 billion. But the impact of the retaliatory tariffs was devastating… Our belief is that the imposition of additional tariffs on this industry is detrimental,” senators wrote. “There are mutual benefits in finding a path forward, and our belief is that spirits and wines are a point where there can be consensus to limit the damage for all parties.”
European tariffs were first imposed in 2018 at 25%, but that percentage was due to be doubled, sending jitters through the industry.
Retaliatory tariffs by the EU have cost domestic spirits distillers and winemakers billions of dollars since 2018.