HEFTY TARIFFS imposed on Scotch Whisky imports by the Trump administration have been suspended, to the delight of distillers and barley growers.

The 25% surcharge on single malts was part of a battery of trade restricting measures introduced by Trump in reaction to the long-running dispute between the US, UK and EU over subsidies to aircraft manufacturers.

UK cheese exports to the US were also targeted, as was cashmere, with the effect that Scottish businesses with US interests took a substantial hit.

The Scotch Whisky Association estimated that since the 25% tariff was imposed on single malts back in October 2019, exports of Scotch to the US have fallen by 35%, amounting to more than £500m in lost exports.

So the decision by the Biden administration to suspend all these duties for four months, while the two sides negotiate towards a long-term settlement, has been warmly welcomed by everyone with a stake in Scotch.

East Lothian arable farmer Willie Thomson, who chairs NFU Scotland’s Combinable Crops Committee, said: “As Scotland’s growers gear up for spring planting, the news that the USA has decided to suspend its tariff on malt whisky, imposed as a result of the dispute with the EU over support to an aircraft manufacturer, is very welcome.

“By producing some of the best malting barley in the world, Scottish farmers provide the vast majority of the raw materials for malt whisky so any action that helps steady Scotland’s biggest export sector is good news for the rest of the supply chain too. The malting barley we will plant this spring will not appear on shelves in bottles for more than three years so stability, and better still growth, in the whisky sector encourages investment in capacity from the top to the bottom of the supply chain.

“This is very encouraging and it is important that the US and UK Governments continue to work together to make the suspension of tariffs permanent.”

Head of the Scotch Whisky Association, Karen Betts, said: "The tariff on single malt Scotch whisky exports to the US has been doing real damage to Scotch whisky in the 16 months it has been in place, with exports to the US falling by 35%, costing companies over half a billion pounds. So today, everyone in our industry – from small companies to large – is breathing a sigh of relief."

Commenting on the suspension of tariffs on cheese exports, the chairman of the Scottish Dairy Growth Board, Paul Grant, added: “This is great news. It comes on the back of our refreshed Scottish Dairy Growth Strategy, entitled ‘Scotland’s Dairy Sector – Rising to the Top 2030’ being launched this week. In that vision, the USA was highlighted as presenting a major opportunity for growth in Scottish cheese sales.

“I look forward to our innovative cheesemakers securing a long term future in this market and building our exports as a result.”