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India key target for Scotch post-Brexit

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has renewed calls for the UK government to negotiate new trade deals for Scotch post-Brexit, flagging India as the market with the most long-term potential for growth.

One of the SWA’s key concerns is the potential loss of free-trade deals with countries that had been struck by the EU for its members.

Countries that the EU currently holds free-trade deals with include major whisky markets such as Colombia, Korea and Mexico. Vietnam would also come into this category if the EU’s pending deal came into force before the UK leaves.

While uncertainty remains as to whether these deals could simply be transferred to the UK post-Brexit by each country, it’s likely that such deals would almost certainly need to be re-struck.

Other markets flagged up by the SWA as having long-term potential for Scotch whisky, and targets for free trade negotiations, include China, Brazil and the wider Mercosur region of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Fast-growing emerging markets include Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, Burma and Vietnam, while Australia and Thailand were flagged as established markets where further growth was possible, if a free trade agreement was struck.

However above all, the SWA believes India to hold the greatest potential for Scotch, whose market will be a key target for the SWA in securing a free trade deal post-Brexit.

“Brexit poses challenges and uncertainty but also brings opportunities if the UK can secure favourable bilateral trade deals with key export markets”, said David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive.

“India, for example, is a growing market for Scotch but we are being held back by a 150% import tariff. EU talks with India have proved challenging for a decade now and we hope the UK will now take a fresh approach to securing an ambitious trade agreement.”

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Greater certainty has been offered by the Great Repeal Bill – legislation which will transpose all EU rules into UK law, at least for a provisional period after Brexit – covering essential rules, for example bottle sizes, labelling, and product definitions. The SWA has also urged the UK government to ensure that no new domestic tax or regulatory burdens are placed on Scotch whisky at a time of continued uncertainty following the Brexit vote.

“We want the UK to have an open and liberal trading policy, to put transitional arrangements in place that minimise trade disruption after Brexit, and to negotiate better global arrangements than we currently have”, added Frost. “An even more trade-focused British embassy network around the world will be needed to make this happen.

“The UK should be a voice for open markets globally. The more open the market, the more Scotch Whisky exports will grow to the benefit of the wider economy.”

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