Union backs Scotch producers’ demand for end to transatlantic whisky tariffs
29 Jan 2020
The GMB union has thrown its weight behind demands by the Scotch Whisky Association and its US counterpart, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States to remove the 25% import tariffs on their products.
GMB Scotland organiser Keir Greenway accused the British Government of complacency and ignoring warnings first made three years ago.
“This has left the industry vulnerable… US tariffs pose a very real risk to the tens of thousands of Scottish jobs that rely on it.
“But the post-Brexit threats to the Scotch whisky industry go far beyond tariffs. With a weak hand in negotiating access to new markets and geographical indicator status as yet insecure, the UK government needs to step up now to defend Scotch whisky workers whose livelihoods are threatened by UK government inaction.”
Manufacturers’ trade body the Scotch Whisky Association said total Scotch whisky exports last year were worth £4.7 billion. These account for 70% of all Scottish food and drink exports and more than a fifth of all UK food and drink exports.
More than 10,000 Scots are directly employed in the industry with a further 40,000 UK jobs supported by it. Of the Scots employees, 70% are based in rural and island areas that often lack other job opportunities. Whisky tourism also attracted nearly 2 million visitors who spent almost £61 million at distilleries in 2017.
The United States is the largest single importer by value and in 2018 became Scotch Whisky’s first £1 billion-plus market. France is the largest European importer by value and the second overall, worth £442 million.
Other leading European markets are Germany (£173 million, fourth overall), Spain (£170 million, fifth overall) and Latvia (£130 million, 10th overall).
While Europe accounts for 30% of the market, North America has climbed to 27%, with the Asian market now on 24%. Asia’s largest importers are Singapore (£319 million, third overall), Taiwan (£168 million, sixth place), the UAE (£146 million, seventh overall) and India (£138 million, eighth place). The remaining top 10 importer is Mexico, valued at £131.5 million and ninth-placed in the world.