Brexit deal looms
Whisky leader demands retention of zero tariffs
Whisky chiefs want minimum disruption
The Scotch Whisky Association is calling for zero tariffs to be maintained on key imported products in a new trade deal with the EU.
The Brexit transition agreement is set to be approved by EU leaders and the SWA is urging minimum disruptin.
Last year, 39 bottles of Scotch Whisky were shipped overseas every second, valued at £4.36 billion.
The Scotch Whisky industry is strategically important to both the Scottish and wider UK economy, making up over 20% of all UK food and drink exports.
SWA Chief Executive Karen Betts said: “We are looking forward to agreement today on a Brexit transition period, which we understand will provide welcome reassurance about the rules and export procedures we will need to comply with after March 2019.
“The transition period should last as long as is necessary to ensure a smooth Brexit for businesses and citizens in the UK and Europe.
“Businesses should not have to make systems changes twice, and every effort should be made to avoid disruption to trade at the end of the transition period. December 2020 is a very tight timeline and this should be reviewed if necessary.”
Mrs Betts added: “It is vital that the Withdrawal Agreement is swiftly ratified by the European and UK parliaments. Until this point, the transition period does not have legal effect, which is a concern for businesses.
“Trade between the UK and EU should be as straightforward as possible after the transition period concludes. 30% of Scotch Whisky exports go to the EU, and while these are not susceptible to increased tariffs after Brexit, maintaining zero tariffs on imported materials like glass, machinery and packaging will be important to us.
“Regulatory divergence must be kept to a minimum given the need for all exports to the EU to comply with EU rules.
Looking beyond the transition period, she said there were opportunities to develop other markets for scotch.
“Beyond the EU, we would like to see the UK develop ambitious plans for trade deals with markets that are important to our future growth, such as India and China; and secure the continuation of the trade agreements the EU currently has with 3rd countries, such as South Korea,” she said.
“For us, there are both advantages and disadvantages to customs union, EEA and EFTA models.
“Ultimately, what we believe will be important is a constructive and open minded approach on the part of negotiators on both sides, such that UK businesses can continue to trade easily and thrive into the future.”