Plea to keep investment flowing

Call to back whisky ‘at home’ to help exports

Karen Betts

Karen Betts: wants duty freeze (pic: Terry Murden)


Scotch Whisky leaders have again called for more support from the Chancellor to help maintain the industry’s growing export trade.

Overseas sales increased in the first half to £1.97 billion, a 10.8% rise on the same period last year, following a period of investment and new distillery openings.

Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Karen Betts urged Philip Hammond to help ensure investment continued to flow into the sector by ruling out any tax rises in his Budget at the end of the month.

“In order to flourish overseas, the industry needs support at home,” said Mrs Betts. “Competitive tax rates are crucial, enabling producers to start-up, scale-up and invest for growth, such that they continue to be the dynamic job-creators, employers, tax-generators and exporters that they are.

“Right now, £3 in every £4 spent on Scotch in the UK is collected in tax by HM Treasury. The industry believes this tax burden is too high, and is more likely to stifle growth than nurture it. 

“That is why we are calling on the Chancellor to freeze duty on Scotch Whisky in the Autumn Budget.”

The volume of exports also increased by 5.6% to almost 558 million bottles, according to HMRC figures.

Single Malts continue to grow in popularity, with exports up 14.4% to £550m in the first six months of the year. They now make up 28% of the value of all Scotch shipped overseas.

Exports of Blended Scotch Whisky grew too, rising 8.9% to an export valuation of £1.26bn.

Scotch Whisky is now being shipped to major emerging markets at a faster rate than ever before. Exports to China in the first six months of 2018 were up 34.8%, to £36.3m, with India increasing by 44.4% to over £56m. The US remains the largest export market by value at over £400m, with France largest by volume at almost 90m bottles.

The European Union remains the biggest regional destination for Scotch, accounting for 39% of the volume of Scotch Whisky exports and 31% of their value.

The Scotch Whisky Association said this underscores the importance to the industry of the UK achieving a smooth exit from the EU and the real downsides of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

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