Scottish ministers call for UK support for whisky industry

Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter
·2-min read

Two Scottish ministers have called for more help for the whisky industry from the UK Government.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has pushed for Brexit-related export issues to be resolved as a matter of urgency in a letter to Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice.

The whisky industry has faced disruption due to Covid-19, Brexit and tariffs imposed by the US following a dispute with the EU.

Fergus Ewing in Holyrood
The Rural Economy Secretary said it had been a ‘particularly difficult year’ for the sector (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

Mr Ewing said: “It’s been a particularly difficult year for Scotland’s food and drink sector.

A once booming whisky industry has seen overseas exports drop by 23% in the last year alone.

“The whisky industry was already reeling from the triple threat of US import tariffs, the coronavirus pandemic slowing global demand, and a complicated alcohol duty system before Brexit compounded matters.

“Like many food and drink businesses, the sector is struggling with complicated bureaucracy post-Brexit and it is vital that such issues are resolved as soon as possible.

“I have written to the UK Government urging them to address the problems and will do my utmost to help one of Scotland’s greatest food and drink success stories get through this challenging time.”

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has also pushed for changes to be announced in the upcoming budget in a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, such as reforms to the alcohol duty system paid on exports.

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “Scotch whisky is world-renowned, and we are working closely with the industry to help them take advantage of new export markets.

“The UK Government promotes the Scotch whisky through the Food is Great campaign.

“Last year, we announced £1 million dedicated to showcasing Scottish food and drink exports around the world.

“We are confident the sector is well-positioned to benefit from the expansive trade deals that we are now striking.”