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Whisky adds £3.7bn to UK balance of trade, new report shows

Published:  25 January, 2017

The Scottish whisky industry contributes a massive £3.7bn to the UK's balance of trade in goods making it the singe largest net contributor, according to new research published by the Scotch Whisky Association.

Annual Scotch exports currently stand at some £4 billion each year, while imports in the supply chain, such as packaging for products and casks for maturing spirit, are a mere £200 million.

The SWA report, titled The Economic Impact of Scotch Whisky Production in the UK, concludes  that without the contribution of whisky, the UK's trade deficit in goods of £115 billion would be 3% larger.

The research forms part of the SWA's ongoing campaign against what it sees as an unfair and onerous tax burden on the sector.

At present, some 77% of the price of an average bottle of Scotch goes to the government.

Additional data in the report shows that Scotch adds £4.9bn to the UK economy each year and supports 40,200 jobs, around a quarter of which are in Scotland. Some 7,000 of those jobs are in otherwise deprived rural areas.

Despite the current tax regime, the industry is expanding at a record pace with 14 new distilleries opened since 2013 and a further 40 planned across Scotland.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, acting chief executive of the SWA, said: "Scotch whisky is one of the UK's most strategically important industries. We are calling on the government to 'Stand up for Scotch' by addressing the high and unfair level of taxation distillers face in their home market. The current tax of 77% on an average priced bottle of Scotch is a burden on consumers and the industry. And the government's own figures indicate that fairer tax treatment leads to increased revenue for the public purse.

"We are calling on the UK government to cut excise by 2% in next month's Budget, supporting a great Scottish and British industry at a time of uncertainty, giving us a stronger domestic platform from which to invest and grow to make a success of Brexit."