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Call for extra protection

Scotch needs ‘Nissan-style’ Brexit deal, says Labour

Scottish Labour has today called on the UK Government to secure a ‘Nissan-style’ Brexit deal to protect the Scotch whisky industry.

Economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie has written to the Scottish Secretary David Mundell urging him to press the case for special protection for an industry that secures up to 40,000 jobs in the UK.

The industry is worth an estimated £5 billion to the UK economy – £4bn of which is exports.

The GMB union has warned that without a deal similar to that offered to the car industry there is a risk of the whisky industry losing out to markets in East Asia and South American, which are currently supported by EU brokered agreements.

Nissan was told by the UK Business Secretary that the UK Government would seek tariff-free access to EU markets for the car industry.

The call comes as the Scotch industry puts its case for a further cut in the duty on spirits to maintain its competitive edge.

Ms Baillie said: “The Scotch whisky industry is a key employer in Scotland and right across the whole of the UK, so it’s essential that the UK Government secures a Nissan-style deal to protect jobs. We cannot allow Brexit to put one of our most successful industries at risk.

“Around 80% of the Scotch whisky industry’s contribution to the UK economy comes from exports. There is a real risk that the industry will lose out to markets in East Asia and South America, because trade agreements in these areas are currently brokered by the European Union.

“I have written to David Mundell seeking an urgent meeting with GMB members to discuss how to secure a deal to protect the Scotch whisky industry.”

Louise Gilmour, GMB Scotland Organiser, said:  Whisky is a massive success story for Scotland – and the UK – but we need the government to back us up in the months and years ahead.

“Westminster was quick to pledge support for Nissan – which is also vital for the economy – but is frankly dwarfed by the size of the whisky industry.

“We need parity for workers in our whisky industry and the same guarantees that were given to Nissan.

“Tens of thousands of jobs depend on whisky and the government needs to take action to protect our members livelihoods post- Brexit.

“Our members want assurances that the government will be doing all it can to ensure whisky sector can thrive, creating much needed new jobs by securing good deals with new markets.

“Quite simply, we cannot do without this industry.”

Jackie Baillie’s letter to David Mundell:

Dear David, 

I write in my role as Scottish Labour spokesperson for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work in the Scottish Parliament. 

I have heard many times about the impact that Brexit will have on our economy. In particular, the concerns from business about the uncertainty that they are facing. The Scotch whisky industry contributes £5 billion to the UK economy, £4 billion of which is from exports. 

Although the Scotch whisky industry is covered by World Trade Organisation agreements, 10% of exports, worth around £400 million, go to markets such as Mexico and South Korea where trade agreements are brokered through the EU. 

I believe that the Scotch whisky industry should be given reassurances similar to those given to the car manufacturing industry. 

I would be grateful to have the opportunity to discuss this further with you in a joint meeting with the GMB Union, who represent a significant number of workers in the industry. 

I will ask my office to get in touch to arrange a suitable date. 

Best wishes,

Jackie Baillie MSP

Interview with Julie Hesketh-Laird, acting CEO, Scotch Whisky Association

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