WASHINGTON – The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States today praised President Bush for signing into law the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement. As part of the agreement, Australia will repeal its 5 percent tariff on spirits imports and recognize Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey as exclusively American products, the Council said. “Australia is a leading market for many of the spirits products exported from the United States,” said Distilled Spirits Council President Peter Cressy, whose organization successfully pushed for immediate tariff repeal and protection of the standards of identity in the trade agreement. “Our industry applauds U.S. and Australian negotiators and praises the President for signing this important agreement,” Cressy said. “It will help ensure Australian consumers have increased access to many fine U.S. spirits products.” Australia ranked as the U.S. distilled spirits industry’s 4th largest export market in 2003, with direct spirits imports from the U.S. valued at almost $60 million. U.S. spirits exports to Australia alone accounted for approximately 10 percent of all U.S. spirits exports worldwide in 2003. Cressy noted that total U.S. spirits exports to Australia are already growing steadily, increasing by 7.2 percent in 2003. “This agreement, coupled with the growing Australian taste for high-quality Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey, is great news for Kentucky and Tennessee,” he said. David Wagner, Vice President of External Affairs for Jim Beam Company, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on behalf of the Distilled Spirits Council during the committee’s consideration of the agreement in June. “Exports will continue to fuel the industry’s growth,” Wagner told the committee in prepared testimony. “A five percentage point advantage is significant in the Australian market across the full range of spirits categories, and is expected to have a significant positive impact on U.S. spirits exports to Australia.”