Scottish Whisky (Scotch) is, for now, robustly protected by Scotland’s membership of the EU, which offers strict legal and international trade safeguards on intellectual property and status of this prestigious global brand. The Scottish Whisky industry supports 20,000 jobs in Scotland and 40,000 in the UK. It is a £4 Billion industry that accounts for over 20% of all UK food and drink exports. After March 2019 EU protections on Scottish Whisky end.
So far, UK Trade talks with the US have included talk of relaxing the definition of ‘whisky’. There have been disputed claims from the UK and Peruvian trade talks that demanded whisky production take place in Peru. President Trump, never one to pass up a lucrative business opportunity, is already eyeing the UK’s post-Brexit NHS and Food market so why should Scotch be any different? With a weak and chaotic Tory UK Govt desperate for trade deals, nothing can be said to be off the table. Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has been blocked from all trade talks and its calls for stronger legal protections for Scottish Whisky have been ignored.
Will multinational drinks companies still maintain levels of whisky production in Scotland if the protections are weakened and cheaper production can be done elsewhere? How will tariffs affect that decision? How will external production affect independent whisky makers and competition?
What is the ‘independent’ Scottish Whisky Association’s take? Former Chief Executive David Frost was in favour of remaining in the EU but has since left for a new role as foreign affairs special adviser to UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson MP. New Chief Karen Betts, formerly of Cabinet Office, Joint Intelligence Committee and Ambassador, is now talking up the opportunities of Brexit for Scottish Whisky. The SWA’s various positions seem to mirror, rather uncannily, the very same as the UK Govt.
What will be the impact on the Scottish economy, jobs, culture and identity? A cynic might say that the UK Govt was preparing to trade off protections to the advantage of other sectors such as finance and that damaging Scotland economically and culturally would be the icing on the cake for right-wing Tories.
What we believe is that Scotland’s huge wealth of resources and relationship with the EU are best managed and decided by itself. There is only one way to create that opportunity.
‘Whisky’ on the table. Transatlantic Trade Talks reference to relaxing definition of whisky with comments by Keith Brown:
Peru dispute over what was said about whisky during UK Trade talks:
NB Bryant was part of UK Peru trade delegation and his point, raised in the Commons and fairly detailed, was backed by fellow MP Ian Murray and, to our knowledge, never denied by Tories who could settle fears by introducing tougher legal safeguards on Scotch. Why not?