Whisky industry demands zero tariffs on sales of Scotch to Europe

A third of whisky exports go to Europe each year. Picture: Rob McDougall
A third of whisky exports go to Europe each year. Picture: Rob McDougall
0
Have your say

Whisky leaders are demanding zero tariffs be placed on sales of Scotch to Europe after Brexit.

Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) chief executive Karen Betts will say that is the “minimum” the Government must deliver in negotiations.

A third of whisky exports go to Europe each year, with the SWA describing the continent as a “mature market” for its products.

With sales to other overseas nations also important, Ms Betts will also call on the Government to ensure trading deals with 24 key nations provide “as good or better terms” for the sector.

Ms Betts will speak out as she addresses the SWA members’ day conference in Edinburgh - with Deputy First Minister John Swinney also due to attend the event.

Scotch whisky exports have doubled in value in the past two decades, with sales totalling about £4.4 billion made to a combined total of 180 countries across the globe.

“We are proud of our industry’s success and of our global reach, that we are intrepid internationalists and that Scotch travels so well,” Ms Betts will say.

She will stress that the industry’s success must not “be taken for granted by government”.

With processes for the UK leaving the European Union under way, Ms Betts will state: “We continue to call on government to ensure that, after Brexit, we can trade as easily with Europe as we did as an EU member.

“A third of Scotch whisky exports go to Europe, an established, mature market for Scotch.

“At a minimum, we want to see agreement on zero tariffs, a minimum of regulatory divergence and mutual recognition of geographical indications. “

In addition, she will argue “proper attention” must be given to non-EU markets and the trade deals the UK can agree with other nations.

While the EU has trade deals in place with more than 100 other countries, 24 of these - including South Korea and Colombia - are “very important” to the whisky sector.

“The loss of these agreements would directly, negatively impact Scotch whisky,” Ms Betts will warn.

“We are urging the UK Government to swiftly put in place similar agreements with those 24 countries - on as good or better terms - to ensure Scotch can continue to be exported with a minimum of extra cost and complication.

“Beyond those 24 agreements, we are urging government to focus their efforts for future trade agreements on markets that are important for Scotch whisky’s growth.

“Advantageous trade deals with emerging economies such as India, China and Brazil have the potential to boost the industry’s growth significantly and are critical to us in the longer term.”