U.S. – Australia Free Trade Agreement Will Eliminate Tariffs on Distilled Spirits WASHINGTON —The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States said that under the U.S. – Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) successfully concluded last week, Australia has agreed to eliminate its duties on all distilled spirits imported from the United States. “The agreement is a victory for U.S. distilled spirits exporters and Australian consumers,” said Debbie Lamb, Senior Vice President of International Issues & Trade for the Distilled Spirits Council, which successfully pushed for immediate spirits tariff elimination and American whiskey protections. As soon as the agreement enters into force, Australia will abolish its 5% duty on all U.S.-origin spirits. Australia ranked as the U.S. distilled spirits industry’s 4th largest export market in 2003, with direct exports 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. Total U.S. spirits exports to Australia in 2003 increased by 7.2% over 2002 levels, according to the U.S. government’s economic data. “The elimination of Australia’s import duties on U.S. distilled spirits will ensure Australia’s position as a leading export market for the U.S. spirits industry, “ Lamb stated. “The industry applauds the tremendous efforts of the U.S. and Australian negotiators to conclude such an important agreement,” she continued. Trade Agreement Includes Special Protections for Bourbon and Tenn. Whiskey Lamb pointed out that the U.S. – Australia FTA also includes an important provision recognizing that Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey are products manufactured exclusively in the United States. This recognition is especially important, since in 2003, Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey accounted for approximately 83% of all U.S. direct spirits exports to Australia. If approved by Congress in 2004, the bilateral agreement will go into effect immediately in 2005. “The U.S. spirits industry stands ready to work with other interested parties to urge the Congress to approve the agreement swiftly,” Lamb concluded.