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Legislation introduced to level playing field for American whiskey distillers

By The Bourbon Flight

WASHINGTON — Duty Drawback Clarification Act was introduced in Congress. The bipartisan legislation would grant American whiskey distillers access to existing export-promotion programs commonly used by beer and wine producers. Duty drawback allows for the refund of duties, taxes, and fees paid at the time of import when similar items are exported.

A recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will allow nearly all beverage alcohol products to utilize the duty drawback program, but American whiskey’s unique tariff classification currently prevents it from being eligible. The legislation would clarify the Harmonized Tariff Schedule substitutions allowed to make the aged spirit eligible.

“This is a matter of fairness in providing access to global markets for producers of American whiskey—including America’s only official native spirit, Bourbon,” said Yarmuth. “Ninety-five percent of the world’s Bourbon is made in our Commonwealth, and as a Kentucky Congressman and Co-Chair of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus, I’ll continue to support efforts to ensure that one of our state’s greatest exports can fairly compete in the global marketplace. From grain to glass, American whiskey creates good-paying jobs for my constituents and individuals across Kentucky, and I’m proud to join my colleague Rep. Steve Womack in introducing this legislation today.”

The duty drawback program was designed to incentivize the export of products manufactured in the U.S. and allow U.S. exporters to compete more fairly with overseas competitors. The Yarmuth-Womack legislation will allow for domestic producers who also import distilled spirits to have access to the program.

“‘Made in the USA,’ ‘Made in Arkansas.’ Those are the types of labels we want to see on more products across the globe. From Fort Smith to Kentucky and beyond, this legislation will support local manufacturing jobs and unleash new sources of opportunity for distillers,” said Womack. “The entrepreneurial character of the Natural State is strong, and our policies should always ensure our businesses can fairly compete. I’m proud to work alongside Rep. Yarmuth to advance legislation that prioritizes American jobs and economic growth.”

Text of the Duty Drawback Clarification Act can be found here.