The UK deficit in trade of goods would be almost 3% greater without the growing contribution of Scotland’s national drink, according to a new analysis of export figures by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).
Releasing its findings today, SWA is renewing its calls for the UK Government to support the industry as Brexit approaches.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Scotch whisky producers had posted record-breaking international sales in 2017, with world-wide exports growing by 8.9% in value to £4.37 billion and 1.6% in volume to 1.23 billion bottles.
SWA’s analysis of HM Revenue and Customs’ figures found that, while the UK deficit in trade of goods fell from £166b to £153b between 2016 and last year, it would have been 2.9% greater without Scotch sales.
The association said that in 2017 whisky accounted for £1.30 of every £100 of goods exported from the UK.
Its research also found that exports of single malts continued to grow, surpassing the £1b mark for the second year in a row, with a year-on-year increase of 14% to £1.17b.
SWA chief executive Karen Betts said: “More Scotch whisky is enjoyed across the world than America, Canadian and Irish whiskies combined.
“Our analysis of 2017 exports shows just how well the industry is doing in our 180 markets.
“This reflects the industry’s determination and hard work to take high quality Scotch whisky to consumers all over the world.
“The UK trade deficit, currently £153b, would have been nearly 3% greater without Scotch whisky exports.
“Scotch plays a key role in the Scottish and UK economy, supporting thousands of jobs, including in rural parts of Scotland.
“Single malt continues to grow significantly, boosting again the value of our exports.
“There are signs too that the market for blended Scotch whisky is improving. This is a welcome indicator of future growth.
“Blended Scotch is the solid foundation on which our global export success has been built.”
She added: “As Brexit approaches, it’s important that the government supports Scotch whisky’s export success and ensures that access to EU and global markets is as good once the UK leaves the EU as it is today.
“This includes ensuring that Scotch whisky is properly protected through the geographical indication (GI) system.”
GI status for Scotch gives legal protection to the genuine product, telling consumers it is made in Scotland from water, cereals and yeast and then matured for at least three years.