SWA: UK must be a ‘voice’ for open markets

4th January, 2017 by Annie Hayes

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has said that the UK should strive for an “open and ambitious” trade policy as Scotch producers eye export volume growth in 2017.

Whisky-casks

Scotch export figures for 2016 will be published in the spring

In a statement looking to the year ahead, the trade body cited the importance of putting “transitional arrangements in place that minimise trade disruption” after Article 50 is triggered, and negotiating “better global arrangements than we currently have”.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, SWA acting chief executive, called for “an even more trade-focused British embassy network around the world”.

“The UK should be a voice for open markets globally. The more open the market, the more Scotch whisky exports will grow to the benefit of the wider economy.”
In recent years Scotch whisky has seen a slowdown in exports due to economic and political headwinds, but the category saw an improvement in performance in 2016, with export volume up 3% in first half of the year to reach 533 million bottles.

Value declined by 1% from £1.71bn to £1.7bn – a smaller decline than the 3% recorded in the first half of 2015.
“We are optimistic that Scotch exports will be positive,”  said Hesketh-Laird. “Our 2016 figures will be published in the spring and this will give us a good indication of the direction of exports.”

The body also called for the UK government to offer more support for the Scotch whisky industry in its domestic market through “more favourable tax treatment”.

Hesketh-Laird said: “The level of tax remains unfair and this issue should be addressed. Scotch whisky suffers from one of the highest tax burdens of any UK-produced consumer good. The tax burden on an average priced bottle of Scotch is 77%.

“At a time of uncertainty economic following the Brexit vote, it is vital that the UK government supports this industry of strategic importance to the UK economy and puts in place measures that promote investment and competitiveness.”

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