The trade body for Scotch whisky-makers toasted a political agreement on a new EU free trade deal with Japan yesterday.
As long as the UK remains part of the EU, distillers stand to benefit from access to a market that was worth £82million in whisky sales by custom value last year – an 8% increase from 2015.
Welcoming the agreement, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Karen Betts said: “We hope this will lead quickly to a deal being finalised, ratified and introduced.
“A free trade agreement (FTA) between two of the world’s largest economies will have wide-reaching benefits across a range of sectors.
“Progress is especially welcome during the Brexit process, at a time when the future direction of trade policy is being considered.
“While Scotch whisky already enjoys a zero tariff in Japan, the FTA is important to the industry and introduces specific legal protection for Scotch whisky in Japan for the first time.”
She added: “We support the UK Government’s objective to ensure the benefits of trade deals such as EU-Japan and others already in place, including agreements with Korea, Colombia and Vietnam, are secured after Brexit and effective transitional arrangements are introduced.
“The UK can then pursue new FTAs with other countries and demonstrate its commitment to open markets.”
Japan is currently Scotch whisky’s 13th largest export market by value.