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Alcohol markets ‘worth £100m’ unlocked after trade talks

The whisky industry says ongoing talks with India are a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity.

13 October 2022

The UK Government says it has unlocked export markets worth £100 million for the alcohol industry after negotiating an end to trade barriers with several African and South American nations.

However the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) says ongoing trade talks with India are a “once in a generation” opportunity to unlock business on an even larger scale.

On Thursday, Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch visited the Glenkinchie Distillery in East Lothian, which is owned by drinks giant Diageo.

The Department for International Trade says it has intervened to end a number of barriers recently.

Conservative Party Conference 2022
Kemi Badenoch said the UK Government is ‘slashing red tape’ (Jacob King/PA)

In Argentina, whisky tariffs were reduced from 35% to 20% following negotiations.

The department said Morocco removed 48% tariffs which were mistakenly imposed on UK spirits, and Angola cancelled a planned tax on whisky.

It also said UK-produced alcohol was freed after being stuck in customs in Tunisia.

Ms Badenoch said: “Every week we remove a trade barrier somewhere around the world.

“From whisky in Argentina to gin in Angola, we’re slashing red tape and opening access to new markets and new customers.

“With these trade obstacles gone and more to follow, my message to UK businesses is clear – make the most of the huge global appetite for your fantastic products and sell to the world.

“As we line up deals with huge markets around the globe, including India and CPTPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), I can’t wait to celebrate the even greater wins which lie ahead.”

According to industry figures for 2021, Scotch whisky exports grew by 19% to reach a total value of £4.51 billion.

Ms Badenoch said Brexit allowed the UK Government to have its own place at the negotiating table for trade as the European Union often did not offer what was needed.

She told the PA news agency: “This is something that would previously have been done by the EU and quite often we didn’t get what was needed.

“Now we’re able to control a lot more of our trade policy – so it is excellent news.”

Mark Kent, chief executive of SWA, said: “Securing a deal with India to reduce the 150% tariff on Scotch whisky is the industry’s top international trade priority.

“We want to see a deal agreed, but not any deal.

“To deliver for the industry, any agreement must open up the market to more Scotch whisky producers, which will in turn generate hundreds of new jobs across the UK, hundreds of millions of pounds of additional exports, and boost investment and revenue in India.

“The ongoing negotiations are a once in a generation chance to give more Scottish distillers the opportunity to do business in India. That is the scale of the prize on offer.

“We look forward to working with the Trade Secretary to deliver continued growth for the Scotch whisky industry in India, and other key global markets.”

Ewan Andrew, president of global supply chain at Diageo, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Secretary of State to Glenkinchie to see how we are investing in the future growth of Scotch whisky, with all the powerful economic benefits that brings to Scotland and the United Kingdom.”

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