The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has called for support from all major British political parties in its recently released election manifesto.
Amid continued market uncertainty, fuelled further by the recently announced snap general election in the UK, the SWA has laid out a number pledges it is calling for parties to agree to.
Advocate for review of the excise duty system and fairer tax for Scotch
Support Scotch exports by delivering on the industry’s Brexit priorities through ambitious trade deals and robust IP protection
Promote a competitive business environment for distillers’
Work in partnership to reduce alcohol misuse
Target reform supporting investment in sustainability
Support Scotch whisky through the UK industrial strategy
Julie Hesketh-Laird, SWA acting chief executive, explains: “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”.
But why is the Scotch industry so worried?
This call for support has come at an important time for Scotch Whisky, and for Scotland’s relationship with the UK.
The SWA report that Scotch’s export value grew by around four percent in 2016, and values it globally at over £4bn.
The SWA has forecast this to strengthen further in 2017 as Scotch continues to recover from a drop in fortune over recent years.
However, with single market access ruled out under the Conservative government and differing visions for the UK’s relationship with EU held by opposition parties, this could see significant disruption.
The SWA report that the EU accounts for £1.2bn of Scotch’s export value, and is understandably keen to minimise any impact Brexit may have on this.
Another aspect to this is Scotch’s importance, both financially and culturally, to Scotland, particularly with the downturn of oil as an asset.
Failure to respect this – either by government or opposition parties — would offer a target for the Scottish National Party to attack.
With a referendum called for by Scottish parliament Holyrood, this is something the Conservative government and opposing Labour party will want to avoid at all costs.