WASHINGTON, DC –- The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS) has urged quick congressional passage of pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.
Such a move would particularly have a favorable impact on bourbon and Tennessee whiskey distillers.
"The Distilled Spirits Council long has supported prompt approval of these agreements because they will bring about significant new export opportunities for U.S. spirits producers,” said Christine LoCascio, DISCUS senior vice president for international trade. "We applaud the President’s commitment to move forward with these free trade agreements."
Under the agreement with Korea, tariffs on imports of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey -- two categories that account for 68% of global U.S. spirits exports -- will be lifted on the first day the agreement enters into force. Korea’s tariffs on all other U.S. spirits will be removed over five years.
Tariffs also will be eliminated immediately on all U.S spirits exports to Panama and on U.S brandies, gins and liqueurs exports to Colombia upon entry into force of those agreements. Colombia will eliminate tariffs on all other U.S. spirits over 10 years.
LoCascio noted that since July 2011, competitors in Europe have benefitted from tariff reductions on their spirits exports to South Korea, which has placed U.S. spirits at a competitive disadvantage in that market.
“In order to begin to reverse this trend, Congress must act quickly to pass these agreements,” she said.
Global U.S. spirits exports have more than doubled over the past decade. In 2010, the value of total U.S. spirits exports exceeded $1 billion for the fourth consecutive year.
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