Implemented on 18 October, the 25% biscuit-related charges are part of a broader £6.1bn of tariffs slapped on EU exports by the US in response to illegal subsidies the bloc paid French aerospace manufacturer Airbus, which the US claimed damaged its own airline operators.
Of Walkers’ total workforce of 1,600, more than 200 people are directly involved in shipping 5,000t of shortbread to the US a year – a market where the manufacturer has enjoyed duty-free access for more than 40 years.
The manufacturer, reportedly the largest exporter of sweet biscuits to the US, also has a subsidiary in Hauppauge, New York that employs 30 people.
Fight for its position in the market
Joint managing director Jim Walker said the company was determined to fight to retain its position in the US, despite facing a disproportionate penalty that has negatively affected the industry. However, he remained confident in the business and hoped the tariffs would not remain too long-term.
“Having survived many challenges in their 40-year journey in the export market, the company is committed to doing everything possible to protect jobs and ensuring the business’ longevity as it maintains its tradition of producing the finest shortbread, earning them a global reputation for quality and excellence,” said Walker.
The Scotch Whisky Association also warned that the 25% tariffs on US imports of Scotch whisky would put jobs at risk and stunt investment and productivity for the sector.
Chief executive Karen Betts claimed Scotch whisky would end up paying 60% of the UK’s tariff bill, eight times more than the next most valuable product on the tariff list.