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GMB warns Trump’s 'jobs killer' tariffs threaten whisky jobs in the Highlands and Islands and any post-Covid economic recovery


By Philip Murray

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A glass of whisky in oak barrels.
A glass of whisky in oak barrels.

A TARIFF war on whisky will be a "jobs killer", a leading union has warned after urging the UK government to take action.

GMB Scotland issued the stark warning amid claims from the Scotch Whisky Association that the introduction of a 25 per cent tariff on single malt imports to the USA has caused a exports to fall by almost a third.

The association believes this drop may have been costing the industry around £30 million a month since its introduction last October.

Responding to a consultation by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), GMB Scotland warned the tariffs will "strangle hopes for economic recovery".

It said: “On both sides of the Atlantic this tariff war will strangle hopes for economic recovery. Dire consequences for manufacturing in Scotland will be mirrored in the US retail and hospitality sectors, and in warehouse operations across its own drinks industry. These tariffs are a jobs killer – no one wins.”

And, with the threat of further tariffs on whisky blends and white spirits, GMB Scotland is urging UK government ministers to intervene while the US continues to negotiate with EU representatives over industries vital to Scotland’s post-Covid recovery and post-Brexit future.

GMB Scotland organiser Keir Greenaway said: “Trump’s tariffs will be a jobs killer on both sides of the Atlantic, there are no winners here, while our members can’t afford to wait for Boris Johnson to phone a friend or let the chips fall where they may in future trade negotiations.

“Today we can measure the impact on sales and profits but without intervention that could quickly turn to jobs and communities – but it seems the UK government thinks this is some kind of idyllic tartan-dressed industry to be taken for granted when nothing could be further from the truth.

“Ministers need to get in the game because this is a real jobs powerhouse supporting tens of thousands of livelihoods, from rural distilleries in the Highlands and Islands to labour intensive bottling operations in Fife and the west.

“Scotland cannot do without a thriving whisky and spirits sector but if it’s to support our post-Covid recovery and post-Brexit future then we need to stand up to Trump and end these tariffs, and if the UK Government isn’t prepared to do this then we’ll do it ourselves.”

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