US spirits exports rise 8% in 2023 following EU tariff suspension

By Thomson Reuters Feb 28, 2024 | 8:16 AM

By Ananya Mariam Rajesh

(Reuters) – Spirits exports rose 8% in 2023 to $2.2 billion, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, following the European Union’s suspension of 25% retaliatory tariffs on American whiskey.

The tariff suspension in 2022 helped U.S. spirits sales bounce back in the United Kingdom and the EU, which are among the top five export markets for the category.

Export of American whiskey to the EU jumped to $705 million in 2023 from $439 million in 2021, the data showed.

In 2018, the EU and the United Kingdom imposed import taxes on a wide range of U.S. products, including bourbon whiskeys, for four years after the United States first thrust tariffs of 25% on EU steel and 10% on EU aluminum.

The trade dispute had hit U.S. spirits exports and resulted in market share loss for American whiskeys such as Tennessee whiskey, Bourbon, American Rye whiskey and American Single Malt in some of the largest export markets.

In December, the EU and U.S. decided to extend the tariff suspension until March 2025. However, if no agreement is reached during the extension period, the EU is expected to double its tariff on American whiskeys to 50%.

“There probably was some stockpiling happening to get ahead of the 50% tariff in the second half of the year” in 2023 given the strong demand for premium American spirits in international markets, said Robert Maron, vice-president of international trade at Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

As per the Council, American whiskeys saw a surge of 9% in export value to $1.4 billion and accounted for 63% of all U.S. spirits exports last year.

(Reporting by Ananya Mariam Rajesh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)