Distilled Spirits Council, Wine Institute praise US-South Korea trade deal

Distilled Spirits Council, Wine Institute praise US-South Korea trade deal

Wine and spirits in the US are set to reap rewards from Congressional approval for a free trade deal with South Korea, according to trade bodies the Wine Institute and US Distilled Spirits Council.

Earlier this week, US Congress has approved the free trade agreement, which will eliminate tariffs and import barriers between the two countries within five years. The agreement immediately removes the 15% tariff on US wines imported into South Korea, said the California-based Wine Institute yesterday (13 October).

"Korea has a significant wine drinking culture, with import consumption growing [by] 177% in the last decade," said the Wine Institute's president & CEO, Robert Koch. In 2010, the US exported around 500,000 cases of wine to South Korea, valued at $11.2m.

Spirits producers are also set to benefit from the free trade deal. Prior to Congressional approval, the US Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS)'s president & CEO, Peter Cressy, said this week that the deal "will level the playing field for US spirits and, in some cases, actually provide US spirits (with) a competitive advantage. 

“For example, as soon as the US-South Korea FTA enters into force, the current 20% tariff on Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey will be completely eliminated. This is particularly important since South Korea is one the largest spirits markets in the world.”

In addition to South Korea, US Congress has also approved free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. In 2010, US spirits exports to these three countries reached $16m, twice the value of exports in 2006. Globally, US spirits exports doubled in the first decade of the 21st Century, to around $1bn, according to DISCUS.