Whisky body wants UK to become a “voice for open markets globally”

Farmers are concerned about byproducts from the whisky making process being used in energy plants.

The trade body for Scotch whisky say the UK should become a “voice for open markets globally,” following the vote to quit the EU.

Acting Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) chief executive, Julie Hesketh-Laird, said the organisation wants the country to have an “open and ambitious trade policy” and “better global arrangements than we currently have” after Brexit.

“The more open the market, the more Scotch whisky exports will grow to the benefit of the wider economy,” she added.

Ms Hesketh-Laird said that since the vote in June the SWA had been consulting with its members and governments to analyse the “opportunities and challenges” Brexit would present to the industry.

World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules mean companies will not face a new tarrif on exports to the EU and the industry will continue to benefit from zero tariffs in other major markets, such as the USA, Canada and Mexico.

“Grandfathering,” or maintaining other benefits already secured through existing EU trade deals, including lower lower tariffs and protection of the Scotch whisky “geographical indication,” will remain a high priority, Ms Hesketh-Laird said.

She continued: “Looking ahead, the SWA wants the UK to have an open and ambitious trade policy, to put transitional arrangements in place that minimise trade disruption after Brexit and to negotiate better global arrangements than we currently have. An even more trade-focused British embassy network around the world will be needed to make this happen.

“We are hopeful the UK can secure favourable bilateral trade deals with key export markets. India, for example, is a growing market for Scotch, but exports are being held back by a 150% import tariff.  EU talks with India have proved challenging for a decade now and we hope the UK will now take a fresh approach securing and ambitious trade agreement.”

For the domestic market, Ms Hesketh-Laird called for more favourable tax treatment from the UK government to support “all parts of the Scotch whisky industry and be fairer for consumers.”