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Value and volume of Scotch exports up for first time since 2011

Published:  28 April, 2017

Amid the uncertainty surrounding trade routes and tariffs thrown up by Brexit, exports of Scotch rose in both value and volume last year, rising by 4% to more than £4 billion and 4.8% to 1.2bn bottles respectively.

This is the first time that both measurements have recorded positive annual growth rates in the same year since 2011.

The calendar year 2016 was also the first time that Single Malt exports exceeded £1bn although bottled Blended Scotch continued to be by far the biggest seller, accounting for 69% of all Scotch volumes and values exported in 2016.

The figures, from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), also show the contribution of Scotch to the economy in terms of both imports and exports.

In 2016, Scotch whisky made up 1.3% of the total value of all UK goods exports, including oil (worth £302 billion).

And according to the SWA, because the industry demands relatively few imports (casks and some raw materials), Scotch provides a considerable positive contribution to the UK balance of trade compared to aircraft, cars, medicinal and pharma, electrical machinery and crude oil, and is therefore, the biggest net contributor to the balance of trade in 2016.

The 2016 report also considered the impact of Brexit on Scotch’s future performance.

The SWA said that the Scotch whisky industry will “face challenges” as it lobbies for the continued “smooth movement of goods” from the UK to Europe.

Under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, Scotch will continue to benefit from a zero tariff on exports to the likes of the EU and USA.

However, if the UK falls outside the EU’s network of bilateral trade deals, there is a risk of losing benefits, including lower tariffs, in markets representing around 10% of exports, the SWA said.

The SWA is now focusing its energies on the priorities set out in its Brexit briefing paper.

These include negotiating the transition of benefits from existing EU trade deals and the UK developing its own FTA network in the future.