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SWA hires ex-FO mandarin for key international role

Published:  22 August, 2019

The Scotch Whisky Association has appointed a former senior official at the Foreign Office as the organisation’s international director.

A former diplomat in the British Embassy in Beijing, Ian McKendrick’s other roles include being lead negotiator for Britain’s international agreements in the Middle East and North Africa and deputy head of FO’s trade policy team. He also spent four years on secondment to the European Commission’s directorate general for trade as an expert on China.

McKendrick’s role will focus on growing exports of Scottish whisky and removing barriers to entry for producers of Scotch in the global marketplace. Key issues include customs and labelling requirements, definitions of whisky and tax.

Welcoming McKendrick’s appointment, Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA, said: “I’m delighted that Ian is joining our team. He is very experienced in global trade issues and in working in overseas markets, and he will add real value to the work of the SWA and our member companies at a time of some change in how Scotch Whisky is exported as the UK leaves the EU.”

McKendrick said: “I am excited to join the Scotch Whisky Association at such a pivotal time for one of Scotland’s most important industries overseas. I know from my previous experience how respected the SWA and Scotch Whisky is on the world stage.

“I’m looking forward to helping the team continue to secure fair market access in existing markets and building the industry’s presence in global markets like India, China and Brazil which have huge potential for future growth.”

Exports of Scottish whisky grew 7.9% in 2018 to reach £4.71 billion. Scotch accounts for 21% of all UK food and drink exports by value.