SWA calls for political focus on building businessesBy Melita Kiely
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has called for greater political focus on building business competitiveness and less debate about the constitution in the lead up to the UK general election.
Approximately 180 people attended the SWA’s annual Members’ Day in Edinburgh on Monday to hear panel sessions lead by David Frost, SWA chief executive, and Pernod Ricard’s Pierre Pringuet, SWA chairman.
This year’s event was titled “Scotch Whisky – sustaining success in the UK and globally” and aimed to discuss the global marketplace for Scotland’s native spirit.
As reported by Herald Scotland, Frost praised the increased profile of Scotland in UK politics following last year’s referendum “because more systematic focus on Scotland’s needs, by way of infrastructure, skills, connectivity, and business support, after the election, can only be good for us”.
However, he said since last year’s referendum, Scottish businesses had called for a sustainable settlement with extra powers used to boost competitiveness but that politicians had failed to address these matters.
“To put it charitably, I am not sure these ideas have been a big theme in the election campaign so far,” said Frost.
“Of course, social spending and greater equality are important, but we will not achieve them unless we have a prosperous and successful business sector here in Scotland and across the UK.”
Furthermore, Frost touched on the current Scotch whisky export situation and concluded Scotch whisky is “a beacon” for other British industries to expand to foreign markets.
“Last year was challenging for us in global markers, but our performance is pretty impressive,” he said. “The underlying picture is an encouraging one.”
Scotch whisky contributes around £5 billion a year to the UK economy, supporting more than 40,000 jobs and is accountable for approximately 80% of Scottish food and drink exports and roughly a quarter of the UK’s.