Information revealed to the Holyrood Europe Committee confirms the UK has yet to agree crucial deals to protect Scotch whisky exports after Brexit.Future deals with the United States and Mexico would maintain ‘geographical indication’ protections currently guaranteed through our EU membership – stopping cheap knock-offs being sold as ‘Scotch’.
But despite Brexit now just 8 weeks away, the deals have yet to be finalised.
Scotch Whisky production accounts for more than 20% of the total UK food and drink exports. The USA is the single biggest export destination, worth over £920 million in 2017.
In a letter from the UK government to a House of Lords Committee, and then passed on to Holyrood’s Europe Committee, Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay outlines what international agreements have been signed, which the UK government intends to sign shortly and which agreements have yet to be finalised – including the two crucial whisky deals.
Commenting, Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara said:
“Whisky is an enormously important export, with overseas sales worth billions.
“Without the Scotch label being protected, the door would be wide open for knock off-merchants to capitalise on Scotland’s brand and undercut our producers. And with the EU-Japan deal now coming into force; we face the astonishing prospect of Japanese whisky having easier access than Scotch to European markets.
“Whisky is one of the mainstays of our economy in Argyll and Bute. In recent years its economic impact has grown bigger and bigger.
“The UK Government must get their act together to safeguard and protect this industry and the thousands of jobs it supports.
“Without ruling out a no deal Brexit and securing a deal for Scotch Whisky, they are jeopardising the continued growth of the Scotch whisky brand in the future.”