Scotland’s Economy Secretary Keith Brown, has called on the UK government to protect the Scotch whisky industry following Brexit, against the backdrop of the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox visiting the US last week.
The Scotch whisky industry annually contributes almost £5bn to the UK economy, supports more than 40,000 jobs and is the largest net contributor to UK exports, according to recent research by the Scotch Whisky Association.
The research reinforces Scotch whisky’s position as a strategically important industry for the UK in terms of value it adds to the economy, jobs supported, investment and export performance, and should be better supported by government.
Keith Brown has called for the current EU definition of whisky to be applied into UK Law after the UK leaves the EU.
He commented: “Aside from being a key part of Scottish culture and identity, our whisky industry supports around 20,000 jobs.
“The US made clear in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership [TTIP] discussions that they would support a relaxation of the definition of whisky, which would open the market up to a number of products which do not currently meet that standard.
“Whisky is a product which is worth around £4bn to Scotland in exports. It is vital that we continue to have robust legal protection of Scotch whisky, which is why I have sought clarification from the UK government as to whether Scotch whisky featured in discussions during last week’s trade visit by the Secretary of State for International Trade.
“I am also demanding that the current EU regulations are guaranteed post-Brexit.”
Brown explained: “After reports this week that the UK government is contemplating trade deals that threaten the value and reputation of Scottish produce, once again we can see the confusion which is at the heart of the UK government’s Brexit position.
“We need to be sure that any future deals work for Scotland and are not threatening the livelihoods of our farmers and producers. This is why all four UK governments should have oversight of the negotiations to ensure, as far as possible, that the right outcomes for everyone are secured.”