“This is a positive development for Irish spirits as the US is a vitally important market for our industry,” said Vincent McGovern, Head of Drinks Ireland|Spirits, “In 2019 it was the number one market for Irish GI spirits (Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream and Poitín), with 2,385,800 nine-litre cases of Irish cream exported from Ireland to the US that year.”
He continued, “Open trade is critical for our sector and we hope that the removal of tariffs will help grow the Irish cream category in that market in the coming years.”
The truce in the 17 year-old transatlantic dispute over aircraft subsidies was finally agreed by US President Joe Biden yesterday with his EU counterparts.
However the Irish spirits industry is not out of the woods yet with the EU itself as Brexit continues to threaten all-island whiskey and dairy exports.
Brexit at the root of EU tariffs
Yesterday, Ireland’s EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness told the Seanad’s Brexit Committee that changing the ‘rules of origin’ requirements to accommodate cross-border processing of Irish whiskey and other Irish spirits would be “problematic” according to a report in today’s Irish Independent.
Dairy and alcohol producers on both sides of the border have said that Brexit rules are now leading to tariffs on Irish whiskey bottled in NI if such products are shipped outside the EU or UK
Over 10% of global Irish whiskey sales contained components from distilleries on either side of the Border whether that be grain, spirit, milk or the bottling process itself.
According to the report, “Dairy and whiskey producers want ‘mixed’ goods – those which cross the Border multiple times to be finished, bottled or processed – to be treated as EU goods in trade deals”.
However EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness pointed firmly at Brexit as being the culprit here.
“To be very clear” she told the Brexit Committee, “these rules of origin exist and as they are, Brexit is the problem. Brexit has caused so much disruption, including to this all-island dairy market which has developed over time.”