Newly installed Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has urged US and UK administrations to work together to end whisky tariffs in a joint article with a leading congressman.
Mr Ross and US Republican politician George Holding have called for “bilateral” talks between the two governments on the issue as they warned against raising the controversial trade barriers further.
The duo claim the US has “far more to gain” from a Free Trade Deal (FTD) with the UK post-Brexit than from maintaining spirits tariffs.
As Moray MP, Mr Ross said the tariffs were imposing “unfair” hardship on the area with an economy reliant on distillers and other industries, like cashmere and shortbread, affected by the trade dispute.
His article, written in conjunction with North Carolina Representative Mr Holding, welcomed talks between US Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer and UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss aimed at establishing an FTA with America.
But their “greatest concern” was the “retaliatory tariffs” imposed by the US and EU as a result of a trade dispute on aircraft subsidies.
Their impact on the whisky sector had been that exports of Scotch had fallen by 30% and US distillers’ exports had dropped by one third, resulting in the loss of jobs and businesses.
“Thanks to this trade dispute, small areas like Moray, Scotland, are facing additional hardship that is particularly unfair,” Mr Ross and Mr Holding said. “The main industry that provides this locality the bulk of its livelihood is the production of Scotch whisky, shortbread, and cashmere, all of which are presently subject to retaliatory tariffs.”
Their article noted there were “fears and rumours” that spirits’ tariffs could be increased to 100% and extended to blended whisky, gin and vodka, and added that such proposals should be “abandoned”.
The politicians said the issue should be resolved “expeditiously” and called for bilateral talks, separate from those on the Free Trade Deal, to be held between Mr Lighthizer and Ms Truss.