The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) on Tuesday urged the United States and European Union to end a trade dispute after Washington threatened tariffs on $4 billion of goods including Scotch.
The US increased the pressure on Europe on Monday when it threatened tariffs on $4 billion of additional EU goods, including olives, Italian cheese and Scotch Whisky.
The SWA said exports of Scotch Whisky to the US have been zero tariff for twenty years “so it is disappointing that Scotch Whisky has been drawn into this dispute.”
Official figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show that the export value of Scotch Whisky grew 7.8% to a record £4.7 billion in 2018.
More than 10,000 people are directly employed in the Scotch Whisky industry — with more than 40,000 jobs across the UK supported by Scotch.
The United States became the first billion pound export market for Scotch Whisky last year, growing to £1.04 billion.
The EU remains the largest region for exports, accounting for 30% of global value and 36% of global volume.
A spokesperson for the SWA said: “Exports of Scotch Whisky to the US have been zero tariff for twenty years, so it is disappointing that Scotch Whisky has been drawn into this dispute.
“The Scotch Whisky industry has consistently opposed the imposition of tariffs, which harms economies on both sides of the Atlantic which depend on trade for their continued prosperity.
“There is a close relationship between the US whiskies and Scotch Whisky, not least due to the use of bourbon casks for maturation which generates around £70m for the US economy each year.
“We continue to urge the UK government, the EU and the US government to resolve the Airbus-Boeing subsidies dispute without resorting to tariff retaliations for unrelated sectors.”
The Scottish Government told Reuters it was “deeply concerned” that Scotch Whisky was being implicated in the dispute.
“We are calling on the UK government to make urgent representations to the EU to ensure that Scotch Whisky is not collateral damage to this long-term dispute between the EU and the US,” a Scottish Government spokesman said.