SWA warns of ‘damaging’ risks of Scottish independenceBy Amy Hopkins
The CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has warned of “potential risks” to the Scotch industry if Scottish citizens vote in favour of independence during a referendum later this year.
David Frost, who took up the role of CEO of the industry body at the start of this year, said in an annual review that Scotland’s referendum on independence, set to take place in September this year, has “huge implications” for the Scotch industry, some of them potentially “damaging and difficult to manage”.
Frost claimed that the “success” of the Scotch whisky industry derives from factors provided within the UK, which would “need to be similarly provided in the future within an independent Scotland”.
In particular, while the UK’s monetary and fiscal policy is “predictably managed”, Frost claims that the nature of an independent Scotland’s currency remains “unclear” and could affect “exports, management of supply chains, pricing, and competitiveness”.
“The taxation regime also remains to be developed, and any regulatory divergence between Scotland and the rest of the UK may increase costs to business,” he added
“In all these areas, we need further information and reassurance before we can assess whether we can mitigate these potential risks.”
With regards to Scotland’s position in the EU, Frost said that any break of this membership stemming from independence could affect the protection of Scotch whisky’s geographical indication status, and also create trading problems with regards to tariff, market access and negotiations.
“Even a temporary interruption of EU membership involving exclusion from the single market or the customs union, if this were a consequence of independence, would be damaging and difficult to manage,” said Frost.
Frost added that while the Scotch industry currently exports to around 200 markets, a government white paper for independence envisages a network of 70 to 90 overseas missions.
He concluded: “In short, as we consider the potential impact of constitutional change, we look for reassurance on how an independent Scotland could deliver a business, regulatory, and export environment at least as supportive as that which the industry currently enjoys.”