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Following a WTO ruling that the EU had illegally subsidised the aerospace firm Airbus, a WTO arbitrator authorised the USA to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion (£6.1 billion) of goods exported from the EU to the USA.

In October 2019, the Office of the United States Trade Representative USTR released a list of tariffs to be imposed on EU goods entering the USA, including a 10% tariff on civil aircraft and a 25% tariff on a range of agricultural goods, including a 25% tariff on American imports of single malt Irish and Scotch whiskies and whisky liqueurs imported from the UK. These tariffs came into effect on 18 October 2019.

In 2018, Scotch whisky exports were worth £4.7 billion; exports of single malt Scotch whisky were worth £1.3 billion – 28% of all Scotch whisky exports.

The USA was the single largest export market for both Scotch whisky and single malt Scotch whisky, accounting for 22% of all Scotch whisky exports and 26% of single malt Scotch whisky exports in 2018.

The Scotch Whisky Association have estimated exports of Scotch whisky to the USA could fall by 20% over the next year, owing to the increased price of the spirit.

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