US spirits exports rebound after tariffs suspended

Imports and Exports | | MIC Customs Solutions |

New figures reveal exports of US spirits climbed by 30 percent last year after the suspension of EU and UK tariffs.

Exports of spirits from the US recorded strong growth last year following the suspension of stiff tariffs on products sent to the EU and UK, new figures have revealed.

Data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) showed that in 2022, total exports of US goods reached a record high of $2.06 billion. This marked a 30 percent increase on the previous year, with shipments of American whiskey driving the sector. 

Exports of whiskey grew by 32 percent year-on-year and accounted for 60 percent of total trade by value and 23 percent by volume. Other drinks to enjoy strong performance in 2022 included US vodka (an increase of 57 percent to $123 million), rum (up by 16 percent to $109 million and gin (growth of 26 percent to $51 million).

DISCUS noted that the temporary removal of tariffs by the EU and UK were a key driver of growth in the last year. The territories had imposed levies in 2018 in retaliation for tariffs on European aluminum and steel imports enacted by the administration of president Donald Trump. These were suspended by the EU for two years in October 2021 and by the UK in March 2022.

Rob Maron, DISCUS vice-president of international trade, commented: "US spirits producers have begun to recapture lost market share in the EU, but American whiskey exports to the UK still lag behind the 2017 pre-tariff level and the threat of tariffs returning continues to stifle growth in these top markets."

He went on to urge president Joe Biden to work with the EU and UK to ensure the permanent removal of tariffs on US spirits, noting that if a long-term agreement is not reached by the end of 2023, the EU will reimpose duties of 50 percent on US whiskey.

This would bring the renewed interest in the products from European consumers "to a screeching halt", Mr Maron said.

DISCUS' figures showed that the EU is currently the largest export market for US spirits, with more than a third of shipments (34 percent) in 2022 heading to the bloc. This marked a 25 percent increase compared to 2021 and totalled $703 million.

The next-largest destinations for the US distilled drinks sector were Canada ($268 million), the UK ($159 million), Australia ($141 million) and Japan ($113 million).