The Irish whiskey industry in Northern Ireland has welcomed the publication of the legal text of the new UK-Australia free trade agreement (FTA), which includes important reforms to rules-of-origin which will protect long-standing, all-island supply chains in the Irish whiskey industry.
The group explained that under innovative new rules-of-origin agreed yesterday evening, Irish grain whiskey distilled in Ireland but matured and blended in Northern Ireland will qualify for the new zero tariff to be applied by Australia to UK whiskeys.
In a statement, William Lavelle, head of the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) commented, “Protecting cross-border supply chains and securing reform of rules-of-origin for mixed-origin Irish whiskey has been a top priority for the Irish Whiskey Association since the UK voted to leave the EU."
"The reform of rules-of-origin in the new FTA will protect traditional, long-standing supply chains in the Irish whiskey industry and will support Northern Irish distilleries as they target export growth to Australia," he said.
Grain Irish Whiskey
According to the IWA, many Northern Irish distilleries currently produce blended Irish whiskeys containing grain Irish whiskey distilled in the south.
There is currently no grain whiskey distillery operating in Northern Ireland.
Standard rules-of-origin for whiskey normally require all liquid to be distilled in the states which are party to the trade agreement, the group added.
This would normally have meant that only Irish whiskey fully distilled in Northern Ireland would qualify for this FTA.
The reform to rules-of-origin now means Irish grain whiskey distilled in Ireland but matured and blended in Northern Ireland will qualify.
“The Irish whiskey industry will continue to press the EU to seek reforms to rule-of-origin in its parallel trade negotiations with Australia," Lavelle stated.
"Protecting our integrated, all-island industry is a key objective of the Irish Whiskey Association and we hope both the EU and UK reach an agreement to preserve the application of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland,” he added.