Whisky producers: keep Scotland competitive

Scotch Whisky Association chief executive David Frost

Scotch Whisky producers on Monday urged new MSPs and the Scottish Government to make sure that Scotland is at least as competitive as the rest of the UK — and ideally more competitive.

The whisky producers urged the new Scottish Government to take a balanced approach to taxation and to keep up investment in infrastructure and connectivity.

Nearly 200 key people from across the Scotch Whisky industry gathered at the annual Members’ Day of The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) in Edinburgh.

The theme of this year’s event was ‘Scotch Whisky – learning from the past, fit for the future’ — with companies discussing the industry’s priorities at home and discussing how Scotch can continue to succeed in a competitive global marketplace.

Scotch Whisky supports more than 40,000 jobs and with annual exports of nearly £4 billion, it is the single largest net contributor to the UK’s balance of trade in goods.

Addressing the event, David Frost, SWA chief executive, said: “The current slowdown in Scottish economic indicators is troubling.

“To get growth to resume, we call on the Scottish Government to set an explicit policy goal that Scotland should be at least as competitive as the rest of the UK — ideally more so — and to use the new devolved powers with this in mind.

“This must include a balanced approach to taxation and sustained investment in infrastructure and connectivity.

“We also need the Scottish and UK Governments to work together to foster a dynamic and competitive business environment in Scotland.

“The Scotch Whisky industry is ready to work with both, and our existing work on boosting exports, developing skills, and achieving demanding environmental targets already shows what can be achieved through partnership.”

Scotland Office Minister Andrew Dunlop, the keynote speaker, said: “Scotch whisky is an iconic Scottish product and one of the UK’s finest export goods, with a tremendous international reputation.

“The industry is also a key part of the UK’s economy, helping to create jobs, security and prosperity for families across the country.

“The UK Government is doing all it can to support the industry, including by freezing duty and protecting the Scotch Whisky Geographical Indication.

“I look forward to working with the SWA and the new Scottish Government to continue to help grow this important sector.”