A UK trade deal with South Africa and five other southern African nations will allow whiskey from Bushmills, Co Antrim to keep exporting duty-free to the region following Brexit.
Without the agreement, distillers here including the Old Bushmills Distillery on the north coast would have faced a tariff of around 130p per litre following Brexit, according to industry body Drinks Ireland. But UK trade negotiators have reached a continuity deal with Mozambique and the Southern African Customs Union. South Africa is the fifth-largest export market for Irish whiskey.
Drinks Ireland said: “We have been campaigning to ensure that zero tariffs will continue to apply to Northern Irish exports of Irish whiskey to all global markets post-Brexit.” It said it’s lobbing for the “most seamless possible Brexit”.
Industry condemns Scotch and Irish whiskey tariffs
On 1 July, the US government threatened to impose tariffs on Scotch and Irish whiskey over a long-standing dispute with the EU regarding civil aircraft subsidies. This was part of supplementary tariffs on US$4bn worth of EU goods, including whiskies that fall outside of the Scotch and Irish contingents.
It followed the initial list of EU products targeted for potential US tariffs in April this year, worth approximately US$21 billion.
The Scotch Whisky Association said it was disappointed to see Scotch as part of the proposed tariffs, particularly as the sector has been trading with the US tariff-free for 20 years.
A spokesperson for the SWA said: “Exports of Scotch whisky to the US have been zero tariff for 20 years, so it is disappointing that Scotch whisky has been drawn into this dispute.
The industry has consistently opposed the imposition of tariffs, which harms economies on both sides of the Atlantic, which depend on trade for their continued prosperity.
The Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) has also voiced concerns over the matter and the harm it could cause the industry, “both in Ireland and in the US.
A statement from the IWA said: “Any tariffs imposed on Irish whiskey entering the US market will negatively impact investment and employment in both jurisdictions.