WASHINGTON – The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States today applauded the landmark Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) concluded Wednesday, citing the reduction in tariff and non-tariff barriers to American distilled spirit exports to the region. Under the agreement, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua will immediately eliminate tariffs on U.S.-origin whiskey and gin, and Honduras will grant immediate duty-free entry to all U.S.-produced liqueurs. The tariffs on all other U.S.-produced spirits will be phased out over different time periods in the coming years once the agreement is ratified by all of the participating countries. “The elimination of trade barriers between the U.S. and our Central American allies is a win-win situation for consumers in all countries and represents good economic policy,” said Debbie Lamb, Senior Vice President of International Issues & Trade for the Distilled Spirits Council. “The spirits industry toasts the efforts of the U.S. negotiators and their Central American counterparts and urges other nation’s in the region to take part in the agreement.” CAFTA also includes an important provision recognizing Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey as distinctive products of the United States. The distinction is particularly important to U.S. distillers because it ensures that all Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey sold in the four Central American countries must be produced in the United States in accordance with U.S. laws and regulations. Prior to ratification by Congress, CAFTA is expected to be packaged with a free trade agreement with the Dominican Republic, which will be negotiated early next year. A vote on the full package is expected in 2004. For additional information or to schedule an interview call 202-682-8840.