White House Official Meets with Washington State Distillers to Highlight Benefits of International Trade

SEATTLE – Small distillers from across Washington state gathered today at Westland Distillery in Seattle to meet with White House Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Cabinet Secretary Gaurab Bansal to discuss the positive impact of international trade and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement on the U.S. distilled spirits sector.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a high standards agreement that will eliminate thousands of taxes that other countries impose on Made in Washington exports, which will support local jobs and level the playing field for Washington state workers,” said Gaurab Bansal, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Cabinet Secretary. “Those tax cuts include tariffs as high as 55 percent that Washington state’s small distilleries face as they look to export to rapidly growing markets across Asia. TPP will bolster our leadership abroad and help the more than 11,000 exporting small businesses in Washington State compete around the world.”

Distilled Spirits Council President and CEO Kraig R. Naasz said, “Distillers of all sizes benefit from expanding trade,” noting that U.S. distilled spirits exports totaled $1.56 billion in 2015, making it the ninth consecutive year that exports surpassed the $1 billion mark.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will further enhance exports of spirits and includes important new protections for Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey – the top U.S. spirits exports.

“Washington state distillers are keenly aware of how exports have grown their business and create new local jobs,” Naasz added. “Making it easier to ship U.S. products overseas will greatly benefit the Washington state economy and its ports, which are the point of embarkation for millions of dollars worth of American Bourbon destined for Asia.”

In Vietnam, for example, U.S. spirits currently face a 45 percent import duty, which effectively blocks many U.S. distillers from exporting to this market. Under the TPP this tariff will eventually be eliminated.

“Spirits from Dry Fly Distilling are currently available in 20 countries, and we hope to expand into more this coming year,” said Kent Fleischmann, co-owner of Dry Fly Distilling, located in Spokane.  “Our distillery is popular in the U.S. market, but we have also found significant opportunity internationally as customers love the heritage and craft behind American-produced spirits.  Anything that makes it easier to enter new markets or levels the playing field would greatly aid in our expansion here in Washington state.”

President of the Washington Council on International Trade Eric Schinfeld added, “With 40 percent of the jobs in our state tied to international trade, we need strong trade policies that allow our exporters to build on the $116 billion in total exports from Washington in 2014.  Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers are outside of U.S. borders, so expanding trade is the best way to grow our state’s economy.”

International Marketing Program Manager of the Washington State Department of Agriculture Joe Bippert stated, “Washington state exported $13.9 billion in food and agriculture and $82.9 million in beverages in 2015.  These impressive figures demonstrate that the distilled spirits industry is primed for export.  As demand continues to grow for spirits products, Washington distilleries will benefit from having a level playing field when accessing additional overseas markets.”

The Distilled Spirits Council is calling on Congress to approve the TPP because it will open markets for distilled spirits products by eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports. The trade agreement includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.


The Distilled Spirits Council is the national trade association representing producers and marketers of distilled spirits sold in the United States.