U.S. Spirits Exporters Now Enjoy Tariff-Free Access to Growing Spirits Market

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) toasted the entry into force of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, saying that it represents significant new access in an expanding spirits market.

“American distillers of all sizes can celebrate today’s implementation of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement because it will ensure that U.S. spirits exports to Panama continue to expand, supporting American jobs and boosting industry growth,” said Christine LoCascio, DISCUS Senior Vice President for International Trade.

Today, Panama officially eliminated its 15% tariff on U.S. distilled spirits products.  Thus, American whiskeys, rums, and other spirits products now enter Panama duty-free.  Panama also agreed to recognize Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey as distinctive products of the United States. This protection ensures that only Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey produced in the United States under U.S. regulations will be sold as such in Panama.

U.S. exports of spirits to Panama were valued at nearly $7.2 million in 2011, representing a 51.3% increase from the previous year.  For January-August of 2012, U.S. spirits exports increased 18% relative to the same period in 2011.

LoCascio hailed the outcomes achieved by U.S. trade negotiators, saying, “The tariff reductions and distinctive product recognition obtained in this agreement will provide new opportunities for U.S. spirits exporters.  Our member companies look forward to continued success in the exciting Panamanian market.”