Is the special relationship already on sturdier ground? After the Trump administration imposed a 25 per cent Scotch whisky tariff in retaliation for EU state support for Airbus, the UK government has been fighting to have the tariffs lifted to little avail. However, Coffee House understands an agreement has now been reached between International Trade secretary Liz Truss and the new Biden administration.
The US will suspend tariffs as of today for four months — during which the two sides will attempt to come up with a long term solution to the long-running Boeing Airbus dispute. Since the tariffs were imposed, exports of single malt Scotch whisky have fallen by more than a third — amounting to more than £500 million in losses since October 2019. Truss took the decision on 1st January to unilaterally end UK tariffs on US goods that had been imposed by the EU. It was an opening move to try to get things moving that has paid off.
The freeze comes at an important time — with the campaign for the Scottish parliament election soon to get underway. The hope inside government is that this will act as an example of the benefits of an independent UK trade policy — which allows the UK to take a nimble and independent approach to these discussions. This boost to Scottish whisky is the latest reason for the Conservatives to feel a little less pessimistic going into the Holyrood elections.