Brexit impact for Scotch ‘not as desperate’ as some say

27th August, 2019 by Melita Kiely

The outlook for Scotch post-Brexit is not as “desperate as some commentators might say”, but the industry has urged the UK government to give a “clearer direction of travel” to help businesses prepare for the UK’s departure from the EU.

Scotch-Whisky

Lindesay Low, deputy legal director of the SWA, speaking at the Lawrie IP event

This was the message delivered by Lindesay Low, deputy legal director of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), who spoke at an event hosted by Lawrie IP, an independent Scottish firm of patent and trademark attorneys, last week.

The UK is currently due to leave the EU on 31 October 2019.

During his speech, Low stressed the importance of offering legal protection for Scotch whisky and discussed the potential impact of Brexit on intellectual property.

He also noted the importance of maintaining the Scotch whisky category’s status as a geographical indication (GI).

Low said: “With the EU being the largest trading bloc for Scotch whisky, Brexit is a matter for concern. But I think the situation for Scotch if the UK leaves the EU, regardless of what happens, is not going to be as desperate as some commentators might say.

“We have been assured by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that it has a UK system of GIs ready to go as soon as we leave the EU. That will make sure we’re protected.

“In the EU, we have to remember that Scotch whisky and other food products already have a registered right that protects EU consumers from fraud. The European Commission would have to actively take away that right and we feel that is very unlikely.

“The possible slight complication is that, in many overseas markets around the world, we gain access and protection through agreements between the EU and those countries. That is something we’re monitoring very carefully. If we drop out of the EU, we’ll also drop out of those agreements. However, the Department of International Trade is gradually filling in the gaps by signing continuity agreements. We’re getting there.

“Our message to the UK government is clear – we urge politicians to find a way forward and give the industry certainty. The industry is robust; we will deal with it.”

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