Nicola Carruthers reports for The Spirits Business:
The US and Bolivia have signed an agreement to recognise Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey as American products, and Singani as a Bolivian spirit.
Last Friday (24 January), United States trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Bolivia’s foreign minister Karen Longaric signed the deal during a ceremony in Washington DC, which included the exchanging of letters.
Under the agreement, the US will recognise Singani, a type of brandy, as a distinctive product of Bolivia, while Bolivia will recognise Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey as US products.
Following the move, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) will publish a notice of the proposed rule and seek comments from the public.
Bolivia will grant the product recognition no more than 30 days after the US publishes a final rule to grant product status for Singani.
Known as Bolivia’s national drink, Singani is a distilled spirit made from white Muscat grapes. It is produced in the Andes Mountains at elevations between 5,250 feet and 9,200 feet.
Rob Maron, vice president for international trade at Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus), said: “We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Office of the United States Trade Representative for working to secure these protections for America’s distinctive spirits – Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey.
“Bolivia is now the 44th country to provide this important protection for Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey. This move will ensure the integrity of US products and help Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey exports expand to this growing market.”
Currently, Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey are recognised as US products in the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru.
According to data from Euromonitor International in 2018, Singani accounted for nearly half of the total volume of sales in the spirits category in Bolivia. The whiskey category, which is 100% imported, accounted for around 9% of the total volume of spirits sales in 2018. American whiskey accounted for 7% of the total whiskey sector.
In 2018, US two-way goods trade with Bolivia reached US$1 billion. The US goods trade surplus with Bolivia was US$76 million.
The US-Bolivia deal follows a similar agreement between Mexico, Canada and the US for the recognition of Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey in December 2019. Other free trade deals for Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey have also been agreed for Peru, Chile and Brazil.
In 2018, SB spoke to director Steven Soderbergh on his plans for Bolivian spirit brand Singani 63.