Distillers from KY and EU Urge Removal of Tariffs on Spirits Products

WASHINGTON – Leaders from U.S. and EU spirits organizations urged the removal of tariffs on spirits products at a special event held last night at the European Union’s ambassador’s residence celebrating the cultural and commercial ties connecting the Eu and Kentucky. The event was hosted by EU Ambassador to the U.S. Stavros Lambrinidis in partnership with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA).

More than 120 guests attended the event, including ambassadors; members of Congress; administration officials from the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Commerce; U.S. and EU spirits industry leaders; and media.

Guests enjoyed bluegrass music while sampling super premium spirits from Kentucky and the EU including fine Bourbon, Scotch, Cognac and Irish Whiskey.

The evening featured speakers from the worlds of policy, diplomacy, business and literature, including:

  • Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Ambassador to the U.S.
  • Congressman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), chairman of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus
  • Vivek Sarin, Kentucky interim secretary for the Cabinet for Economic Development
  • Rebeckah Adcock, President of Kentucky Society of Washington
  • Greg Fischer, mayor of Louisville
  • Chris Swonger, president and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
  • Allan Latts, COO of Heaven Hill Distilleries (on behalf of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association)
  • Ulrich Adam, director general of SpiritsEurope
  • Philippe Garnier, CEO of Safran Landing Systems
  • Jeff Worley, poet laureate of Kentucky

“The U.S. and EU have become one another’s most important spirits export markets,” said DISCUS President and CEO Chris Swonger. “To continue this incredible trade success story, we urge the U.S. and EU to recommit to bilateral tariff-free trade for distilled spirits.”

Swonger added, “The distilled spirits industry plays an important role in our cultures and our economies, boosting jobs, agriculture and economic development.  In recognition of this, the U.S. and EU governments secured important agreements that have been critical to our mutual success over the past 25 years.”

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the U.S. and EU signing a historic agreement to officially recognize each other’s distinctive spirits such as Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey, and Cognac.

Additionally, Swonger noted that in 1997, the U.S. and EU eliminated tariffs on the majority of spirits. This landmark “zero-for-zero” agreement has resulted in a 450 percent increase in bilateral trade in spirits, reaching over $6.7 billion in 2018.

“Bourbon is one of Kentucky’s most treasured signature industries and a key economic and tourism driver,” said KDA President Eric Gregory. “EU countries make up nearly half of all Kentucky spirits exports, which have been growing at a double-digit rate thanks to free and fair trade agreements.

“Kentucky’s legendary distilleries join the chorus in strongly encouraging a swift return to zero tariffs with our EU partners so that global consumers can continue to enjoy the benefits of this historic relationship.”

In a strong show of solidarity, executives with spiritsEurope, the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac, Irish Spirits Association and Scotch Whisky Association flew to Washington, D.C. to participate in the special event.

“As spiritsEUROPE, we are honoured and pleased to celebrate together with our American colleagues from DISCUS and Kentucky Distillers’ Association the longstanding, close historical ties between Kentucky and Europe,” said Ulrich Adam, director general of spiritsEUROPE.  “The fact that the European and American spirits sectors are so closely intertwined today is a result and proof of this flourishing transatlantic relationship.”

The leaders of the distilled spirits industry from the U.S. and EU stated they stand ready to work with the U.S. and EU governments to help resolve the outstanding trade disputes over agriculture issues, aircraft parts, steel and aluminum.


Dropbox link to event photos:

Photo #1:  From left: EU Ambassador to the U.S. Stavros Lambrinidis; Ulrich Adam, Director General of spiritsEUROPE; Chris Swonger, President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States; and Allan Latts, COO, Heaven Hill representing the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.

Photo #2:  EU Ambassador to the U.S. Stavros Lambrinidis toast to the Kentucky-EU connection.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) is the leading voice and advocate for the U.S. spirits industry.  www.distilledspirits.org

Founded in 1880, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association is the historic voice for Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry. Learn more at www.kybourbon.com and www.kybourbontrail.com. #MakeItMemorable. Please drink responsibly,