Belfast Telegraph

Whisky industry warns over export tariffs after Brexit vote

Scotch whisky could face increased tariffs in some countries in the wake of the vote to leave the UK, the industry body has warned.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the loss of access to the EU's free trade agreements (FTAs) is one of the biggest challenges facing producers, with more than 90% of Scotch whisky sold outside the UK.

Chief executive David Frost said it is reassuring that Scotch will not face a tariff on exports to Europe, while in most global markets existing zero tariffs will continue, including in the US, Canada and Mexico.

But he said tariffs could rise from zero to 20% in countries such as Korea, Colombia, Peru and South Africa unless transitional arrangements are put in place.

Mr Frost said: "To help combat this we're calling on the UK Government to do its best to "grandfather" the EU's FTAs, ie for Britain to continue as a participant even after leaving the EU, or negotiate some other transitional arrangement.

"We also need the Government to put in place plans for the UK's own network of FTAs, though this will obviously take time.

"And we look to British embassies round the world to do even more than they already do in pressing our case to knock over barriers that stop fair access for Scotch whisky in many markets round the world."

The association called for a post-Brexit trade policy that is "as open and free trading as possible".

Mr Frost added: "Scotch whisky is one of the UK's most successful exports. We are calling on the UK Government to bring clarity to the transition to Brexit as soon as possible, and to negotiate to ensure that the current open trading environment is not affected.

"Finding practical ways forward on export practicalities and on free trade agreements should be high on the agenda as negotiations begin in the coming months."