Washington, D.C.— U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) applauded the delay of European Union (EU) tariffs on American whiskey exports that were set to spike to 50% on June 1, 2021.  The EU made the announcement in a joint statement with U.S. officials on Monday, May 17.  The EU and United Kingdom (UK) first imposed 25% tariffs on whiskey and various other American exports in 2018. 

These tariffs hurt what had been a great American export success story for many years.  American whiskey exports to the EU, our largest export market, grew from $502 million in 2008 to $702 million in 2018, an increase of 40 percent.  Since the tariffs were imposed, American Whiskey exports to the EU declined by 37 percent and to the UK by 53 percent.

As co-Chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Bourbon Caucus, Congressman Barr led a letter with co-Chairman John Yarmuth (D-KY) and over four dozen other members of Congress to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, encouraging the Biden Administration to pursue a pause and ultimately, a full removal of these tariffs on American whiskey exports. 

“This is great news for Kentucky bourbon industry.  In April, I called on the Administration to de-escalate trade tensions that were harming bourbon exporters.  This announcement is a step in the right direction,” said Congressman Barr.  “As Co-Chair of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus with Congressman John Yarmuth, I will keep leading the bipartisan effort to fully remove European Union and United Kingdom tariffs on spirits to enable one of Kentucky’s signature industries to thrive.”  

“We deeply appreciate the work of Congressman Barr in continuing to escalate this issue that would have dealt a crippling blow to our homegrown, signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry,” said Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.  “Bourbon is one of Kentucky’s top exports and an $8.6 billion economic driver for the Commonwealth.  We thank Congressman Barr for being a steadfast champion of our timeless craft.”

Congressman Barr was instrumental in securing a major victory in the 2020 year-end COVID-19 relief bill for Kentucky’s bourbon industry.  That legislation included the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA), which contained the Aged Distilled Spirits Act, championed by Congressman Barr.  CBMTRA created a level playing field for bourbon distillers, allowing them to deduct interest expenses associated with production in the year it is paid, not when the bourbon is bottled and sold. This legislation also lowers the Federal Excise Tax (FET) rates for distillers and aged spirits. These FET rates were set to expire on December 31, 2020, unless Congress acted to make them permanent or provide an extension.