The call was made at the ‘W9 Summit’ in Kentucky which took place recently and during which the world’s nine leading whiskey associations discussed trade issues which threaten growth.
US whiskeys have been hit with a 25% tariff by the EU in response to President Trump’s trade policies and fears of further retaliation are very real, particularly for the Irish whiskey industry which is so heavily reliant on the US market.
The W9 Summit meeting was attended by Aoife Clarke, Chair of the Irish Spirits Association and Senior International Director of Public Affairs at Beam Suntory which owns Cooley Distillery in County Louth which produces the Kilbeggan, Tyrconnell and Connemara brands of Irish whiskey.
“Whiskey brands, in particular Irish Whiskey, are increasingly popular among consumers around the world,” said Aoife Clarke, speaking from the event, “Globally, the whiskey industry is a prime example of the longstanding benefits of free and fair trade.
“No one ever wins in a trade war where consumers, distillery workers, farmers, bartenders and wait staff are among the victims. We call on all sides to continue dialogue and work to resolve the current situation in a timely manner. Now is the time when de-escalation is needed.”
While discussion at the summit focussed primarily on the tariff situation, other trade issues were discussed including Brexit and in the Irish context, the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.
“The global spirits industry see the threat of Irish-only health warning labels a barrier to trade both in and out of Ireland,” Aoife Clarke added.