Scotch exports hit new heights

Scotch whisky exports hit a new high as the Scotch Whisky Association unveiled Ian Curle as its new chairman.

Diageo chief executive Paul Walsh, who is stepping down as SWA chairman after four years in the role, announced the industry export figures for the first three quarters of 2011, which saw Scotch earning £125 every second for the UK balance of payments.

The value of exports over the nine month period totalled nearly £3 billion – an increase of 23% on the same period last year.

Walsh said he was delighted to be handing the reins to Curle, who is chief executive of The Edrington Group, at a time when the industry is particularly strong.

Walsh said: “It has been a great pleasure and a privilege to chair the SWA over the past four years.

“As the latest export figures show, the industry is enjoying a tremendous period of growth around the world, making it one of the most important manufactured exports the UK produces.

“That growth is also helping drive investment by the industry in Scotland and so benefitting both the UK and Scottish economies.”

Curle, who will lead the SWA into its centenary year in 2012, said: “I am delighted to be taking over as chairman of the SWA at a time when the Scotch whisky industry is in such confident mood.

“Scotch whisky is an iconic product and it will continue to be a prime asset and export for Scotland and the UK.

“I’ll work to protect the integrity of Scotch whisky across the globe and to advance its export success.

“With the support of governments at home and abroad to achieve fairer taxation and reduction of trade barriers, the industry can reach even higher levels. The European Union is vital to this work.”

Curle said that future priorities for the SWA include completion of the negotiations between the European Union and India on a Free Trade Agreement which would reduce the onerous 150% import tariff.

In the UK, a change in the current duty regime which sees Scotch whisky being taxed more heavily than other drinks is also long overdue, according to Curle, who added that discrimination in the home market undermines the industry’s efforts overseas.

The US was Scotch whisky’s largest export market by value between January and September this year, bringing in £430.7 million. However, France was the largest market by volume, shipping in 39,409,542 litres of pure alcohol.

Meanwhile Pierre Pringuet, global chief executive of Pernod Ricard, will become vice chairman of the SWA.

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