Brexit: UK and US sign wine and spirits trade deals

Two agreements to maintain the flow of wines and whiskies between the US and UK after Brexit have been signed by both countries.

US officials said that the two ‘continuity’ deals would ensure no disruption to trade in wine and spirits after the UK leaves the European Union, which remains set for 29 March amid ongoing political wrangling in London and Brussels.

Both deals were signed in Washington DC by the US chief agricultural negotiator, Gregg Doud, and the UK’s ambassador to the US, Kim Darroch.

The news follows a similar interim deal between the UK and Chile, and is another example of planning for a possible no-deal Brexit.

The UK is the fourth largest market for US wine exports by value, worth $227m in 2017, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), which announced the trade continuity deals this week.

American whiskies have also grown in popularity in the UK, which was the top export market for US spirits in general in 2017, with shipments worth $187m.

‘The U.S.-UK agreement on trade in wine, which includes commitments regarding wine-making practices and labeling requirements, will ensure market continuity for bilateral wine trade,’ said the USTR’s office.

In spirits, names such as Scotch whisky and Bourbon will continue to enjoy protected status, it said.

The news came as the UK’s Wine & Spirit Trade Association highlighted the growth of American whiskies in the UK, despite a 25% tariff on imports imposed by the European Commission in 2018 in response to US steel tariffs.

‘In 2018, the equivalent of 27.6 million bottles of US whiskey were exported to the UK, which is more than double the amount sent here 10 years ago,’ said the WSTA.

It called on the UK government to suspend the 25% tariff after Brexit.