Earlier this month, The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) joined a high-level UK Government trade visit to India, providing anopportunity to meet with key stakeholders in this important market.
Sarah Dickson, SWA global affairs director, was part of the senior ministerial visit, including the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade and Rt Hon Greg Hands MP, Minister of State for Trade and Investment. She joined an invited selection of UK business people as part of the trade delegation and CEO forum, including Ivan Menezes, Diageo chief executive.
India is a fast growing market for Scotch Whisky – in the first half of this year exports to India were up 41% by volume (to the equivalent of 41 million bottles) and up 28% by value to almost £43m. But its potential is being held back by a 150% import tariff on Scotch. Currently Scotch only makes up around 1% of the total Indian spirits market and the industry has been calling for the tariff to be reduced for many years to encourage growth.
The SWA says a UK trade deal with India after Brexit would open up this key market for more Scotch Whisky producers. Such a move would make Scotch more accessible to larger parts of the Indian population.
As well as a trade deal with India, the SWA is encouraging the UK Government to ensure global trading arrangements are better post-Brexit than those already in place. It would like to see greater support for strategically important export industries, such as Scotch Whisky, during a time of change – both in the UK and overseas.
Scotch Whisky exports are worth around £4 billion a year, making it the biggest single net contributor to the UK’s trade balance in goods and the country’s largest food and drink export.
Sarah Dickson, Scotch Whisky Association global affairs director, said at the time: “I’m delighted to join the Prime Minister’s visit to India with other senior UK business people. It’s an excellent opportunity to find out more about India’s economy and its attitude to trade. It should help more Scotch Whisky producers access this important and growing market.
“It’s also a chance to highlight the importance of a UK-India free trade deal. A cut in the 150% import tariff would give a major boost to Scotch Whisky. A further increase in Scotch exports to India would have a positive impact on the entire UK economy, given our position as the biggest single net contributor to the UK’s trade balance in goods.
“Brexit poses challenges and uncertainty but also brings opportunities if the UK can secure favourable bilateral agreements with such export markets.”
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