THE UK Government is hopeful that US tariffs placed on Scottish whisky could be “removed” in a post-Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump’s administration, Michael Gove has suggested.

The Minister for the Cabinet Office was speaking during a trip to the Highlands, which involved him meeting traders impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

Mr Gove was pressed about concerns raised by the Scotch Whisky Association, which is calling for 25 per cent tariffs introduced by the United States on imports of Single Malt whiskey in October 2019, to be scrapped – warning exports of the products to the United States have dropped by 30 per cent, leading to more than £200 million of lost exports.

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But Mr Gove said that once the UK agrees a new trade deal with the United States, being led by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, outside of the EU, it would lead to “significant opportunities” for tariffs to be removed.

He said: “The routes of this dispute arise as a result of the way in which America regards the EU’s subsidy of the aviation section – so it’s a European matter, not a Scottish matter.

“Liz (Truss) has a very strong relationship with the American trade representative, Robert Lighthizer. I know that Liz completely understands how important it is to fight for the whisky sector and indeed other areas that are affected by tariffs.

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“Liz has talked to Robert Lighthizer about why it would be a mistake to extend, as has been mooted, tariffs for malt whisky to gin and blended whisky. She’s also been very energetic in demonstrating that it would be a strong confidence-building measure if we could see these tariffs removed.”

He added: “Ultimately, one of the challenges, while we are still in the EU, America sees us as part of a trade block that has been responsible for a particular approach towards aviation which inspires a particular approach from them.

“The negotiations that Liz has been leading have been constructive so far and there is a real understanding on the part of people in the US administration that after we leave the EU, there are significant opportunities for Scotland’s distinctive sectors, including whisky to get treatment that’s fair and right.”

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Chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, Karen Betts, has warned that the tariffs are a “clear and present danger to Scotch whisky”.

She added: “The UK Government must now work fast with the US Government to call time on tariffs.

“The UK must use the opportunity of ongoing trade talks with the US to work out what each side needs to do to resolve their differences and bring an end to tariffs.

"The damage being inflicted on unrelated sectors such as Scotch, shortbread and cashmere, as well as on American whiskey, is simply unjustifiable. We are paying a heavy price for trade disputes that have nothing to do with us.”