Whisky makers call for government support to maintain growth

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Scotch whisky association, International trade, Tax

Scotch whisky exports reached record heights in 2007 as shipment
volumes rose eight per cent to 1,135 million bottles, though
government support is required to ensure further industry growth,
claims a leading trade organisation.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said that tariff reforms within emerging markets like India had helped to defy the impact of wider economic concerns on demand for the product, citing figures from the UK Revenue & Customs data. Despite obtaining new EU-wide legislation to tighten the definition on products claiming to be Scotch whisky, distillers remain concerned regarding new taxing policies within the UK, which they claim could setback the industry. Export potential ​ Paul Walsh, chairman of the SWA, said that export sales of the tipple generated about £90 of income for the UK economy every second, though continued government support was required to ensure growth continued. "Distillers continue to watch market developments carefully but the trends remain positive, with both mature and emerging markets performing well, and Scotch whisky growing on a sustainable basis,"​ he stated. "This is all the more impressive given the economic difficulties encountered in certain markets during the second half of 2007 and demonstrates that Scotch whisky's international appeal can mitigate against individual market or regional fluctuations." ​ Walsh added that plans for a £400m investment in production within the UK highlighted the strong position of whisky makers in the country, though should not be taken for granted. "Distillers look to government north and south of the border to continue to work with them to support future international competitiveness, tackling barriers to market access overseas, whilst also recognising the importance of a fair tax and regulatory environment at home,"​ he stated. Tax issue ​ Despite general industry optimism, whisky makers, like the rest of the country's alcohol suppliers, have recently claimed that they are being hit by an unfair taxing policy, calling for cuts in the amount of charges they are facing. However, UK chancellor Alistair Darling said back in March that the government was imposing a six per cent increase above the inflation rate on alcohol duties as part of the annual budget for the country. Although the chancellor himself did not refer to health as a reason for the increase, the development was nonetheless a welcomed by charities and other concern groups in the fight against irresponsible drinking. However, the SWA had condemned the policy, which they claim amounts to a nine per cent rise in duties for distillers.

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