One of Scotland’s leading trade bodies is set to form part of the delegation accompanying Prime Minister Theresa May on her first official visit to Africa, it has been announced.
The Scotch Whisky Association has been chosen as one of 29 representatives to showcase the best of UK business for the visit to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya later this month.
It comes after exports of Scotland’s national drink to the continent rose by 13 per cent over the past year, with the association reporting “a hundred bottles every minute” are shipped to South Africa alone. Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “I’m delighted to be able to join the Prime Minister on this trade delegation to Africa.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase the heritage, craft and quality of Scotch Whisky in markets with significant potential for growth in the years ahead.
“Exports of Scotch Whisky to Africa increased by over 13 per cent last year, with double-digit growth in both South Africa and Kenya. Yet Africa accounts for just 4.5 per cent of global Scotch Whisky exports, so there is plenty of scope for further expansion.”
She added: “Importing to Africa can involve a good deal of bureaucracy as well as complex tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, which tend to stifle growth. I hope this visit will support the industry in helping remove some of these difficulties, and help Scotch to compete on a level playing field with local products.”
The visit is designed to strengthen ties and promote trade links between Britain and Africa ahead of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and will mark the first time a British Prime Minister has visited the continent since 2013.
In that time other world leaders, including the likes of French President Emmanuel Macron, have made repeated visits to Africa, while Japan now has more embassies in the continent than Britain.
Additionally, the UK has no embassy presence in 16 African nations, however two new diplomatic posts in Lesotho and eSwaniti – previously known as Swaziland – were announced by former foreign secretary Boris Johnson in April.
A government spokeswoman said the Prime Minister will “set out how new partnerships between the UK and Africa can add value to the UK economy, create new market opportunities for British businesses and boost jobs and prosperity for the benefit of all” during the visit.
In a statement, Mrs May said: “Scotland’s trade outside the EU is going from strength to strength, with an increase of over half a billion pounds in exports to these markets earlier this year.”
“Scotch Whisky is known the world over for its quality and heritage and I want to see Scottish industry make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead in emerging markets across Africa. I am delighted that the Scotch Whisky Association will be joining me to further boost the reputation of Scottish trade overseas.”
The visit starts in Kenya on August 30.