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MEPs to vote on whisky talks

Distillers urge Europe to back Canada trade deal

European politicians are being to back a new trade deal between the Scotch Whisky industry and Canada.

The sector says it is among the industries that would benefit from the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). 

Canada is Scotch Whisky’s thirteenth largest market by value, with exports worth around £77 million a year, and the industry benefits from a zero tariff.

The Scotch Whisky Association claims CETA would bring a range of market access benefits and pave the way for further success by reducing the number of barriers to entry.

Benefits of CETA for Scotch Whisky would include : 

  • Fewer internal trading restrictions;
  • A level playing field for intellectual property rights for EU products in Canada;
  • Removal of the market-distorting effects of the Canadian liquor boards. Several liquor boards are, for example, moving towards applying variable ‘mark-up’ structures to imported products, such as Scotch Whisky. 

Another major breakthrough would be the removal of the current requirement in Canada to blend local spirit with bulk imports of spirit drinks with a geographical indication (GI), such as Scotch Whisky.

A minimum of 1% Canadian content must currently be added to imports, if the product is bottled by anyone other than the Canadian liquor boards.  This requirement has a detrimental impact on Scotch Whisky bottled in Canada, after being made and matured in Scotland, as it cannot benefit from its GI status.

The SWA says CETA would be good for the entire European distilling industry by boosting sales to Canada.

Spirits are the biggest agricultural-food export for the EU, worth €10 billion globally in 2015. Scotch Whisky exports account for around £4 billion of the total.

Sarah Dickson, Scotch Whisky Association global affairs director, said: “We are proponents of open trade policies. We believe the initiatives contained within CETA would greatly contribute to the economic growth of not only the UK, but also of Europe as a whole. CETA will generate growth and jobs through the increased exports, lower barriers to trade and offer wider choice for consumers.

“CETA would deliver a wide range of benefits for Scotch Whisky and provide further opportunity in Canada which is already our thirteenth biggest export market by value.

“With the Scotch Whisky industry supporting 40,000 jobs in the UK and adding value of £5 billion annually, any boosts from CETA would be good for the entire UK economy and export success. We are therefore urging MEPs to support CETA.”

MEPs are due to vote on the deal tomorrow.

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