Scotch ‘needs ambitious trade deals, fairer tax’

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has published its manifesto for the UK General Election, urging politicians to support Scotch via measures including a fairer tax regime, ambitious trade deals and robust intellectual property (IP) protection.

Scotch shipments are worth more than a fifth of total UK food and drink exports, but the SWA said the Scotch industry’s success should not be taken for granted.

The SWA said Scotch generates more than £4 billion in UK exports, supports more than 40,000 jobs and spends £1.7 billion on its largely UK-based supply chain.

The trade body set out manifesto pledges to boost the Scotch industry including:

  • Advocating for review of the excise duty system and fairer tax for Scotch, saying “to address the punitive near-80% tax on an average priced bottle of whisky, the SWA believes there is an urgent need for reform to introduce a fairer system that taxes all alcoholic drinks on the same basis according to alcohol content.”
  • Supporting Scotch exports by delivering on the industry’s Brexit priorities “through ambitious trade deals and robust IP protection.”
  • Promoting a competitive business environment for distillers — the SWA said the UK and Scottish Governments should work together to ensure the industry and its supply chain flourish. “It is vital that Scotland is at least as competitive as the rest of the UK.”

Julie Hesketh-Laird, SWA acting chief executive, said: “We are making a call for all candidates and political parties to show their support for Scotch Whisky — a strategically important industry for our economy.

“The continued success of the Scotch Whisky industry must not be taken for granted.

“With ongoing Brexit uncertainty, the Scotch Whisky industry needs government action that matches its warm words and that enables the industry to grasp the challenges and opportunities which lies ahead.

“Support at home is needed to underpin and maintain our position as the world’s leading spirit drink.”