Karen Betts, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), has stressed that the Scottish and UK governments need to work with the whisky industry as the Brexit process unfolds.
Karen, who became the first woman to take charge of the SWA back in March, made the point after encouraging whisky sales statistics were revealed as part of a report into the performance of Scotland’s GDP in the first quarter of 2017.
She said, “To ensure this success into the future, it’s vital that the Scottish and British governments work with the industry to ensure our needs are taken into account as Brexit progresses, including by supporting an open, global trade policy; securing a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU, and the benefits of EU free trade agreements with third countries around the world until ambitious new bilateral trade deals can be negotiated; and supporting a tax and regulatory agenda at home that provides a platform for international growth for British exporters.”
The number of bottles of Scotch released for sale in the UK went from 17.5 million in the first quarter of 2016 to 18.4 million in the first quarter of 2017, a 5% jump. GDP as a whole grew 0.8% in the first three months of the year.
Karen added, “It’s very encouraging to see growth in the Scottish economy in the first quarter of the year, and the substantial contribution Scotch Whisky has made to that. The Scotch Whisky industry, which employs more than 10,000 people in Scotland, adds almost £5 billion of value annually to the Scottish economy. The economic growth we see in the figures announced today reflects the performance of Scotch Whisky in the first quarter of the year, where Scotch exports were £878 million, up 10% on the first quarter of 2016.”
During the build-up to the general election in June the SWA released their own manifesto, calling on political parties to support Scotch in six different ways, starting with a review of the excise duty system.
Negotiations regarding Britain’s departure from the European Union commenced in Brussels on the 19th of June, headed up by Brexit Secretary David Davis and the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier.