£1bn whisky ex­ports put ‘at risk’ from trade war


Ni­cola Stur­geon de­clared the es­ca­lat­ing trade war be­tween the US and the EU a “pro­foundly wor­ry­ing” sit­u­a­tion for the Scot­tish whisky in­dus­try as she urged the UK govern­ment to press for a speedy, ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment.

Sin­gle malt whisky ex­ported from Scot­land to the United States is set to be hit by a 25 per cent tar­iff in a fort­night’s time as part of a raft of mea­sures be­ing im­posed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in re­tal­i­a­tion against EU sub­si­dies given to air­craft maker Air­bus.

Fears have been raised that the tar­iffs, which would ap­ply from 18 Oc­to­ber, would dev­as­tate the in­dus­try which, over­all, ex­ported £1 bil­lion worth of whisky to the US last year.

Yes­ter­day at First Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions Ms Stur­geon said the news was “pro­foundly wor­ry­ing” for whisky and other Scot­tish ex­ports.

She said: “I re­cently wrote to

the Prime Min­is­ter high­light­ing the threat to the Scot­tish whisky in­dus­try in par­tic­u­lar, I dis­cussed the is­sue di­rectly with the Scotch Whisky As­so­ci­a­tion just a cou­ple of weeks ago, and we will con­tinue to en­cour­age the UK govern­ment to sup­port a ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment to this and we sup­port the ef­forts of the EU to find that set­tle­ment.

“It’s in no­body’s in­ter­ests to have trade wars like this, every­one ends up be­ing a loser, and the sooner we find a res­o­lu­tion the bet­ter and I would en­cour­age UK min­is­ters to work hard to do so.”

How­ever she was later chal­lenged by the Scot­tish Greens to re­tal­i­ate against Mr Trump by sus­pend­ing US mil­i­tary use of pub­licly-owned Prest­wick Air­port.

The air­port, bought for £1 by the Scot­tish Govern­ment six years ago, has been a source of sus­tained con­tro­versy over its decades-long use by the US mil­i­tary, in­clud­ing “ex­tra­or­di­nary ren­di­tion” flights by the CIA.

The tar­iffs are set to be im­posed by the US af­ter the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion ruled in May that Europe il­le­gally sub­sidised plane­maker Air­bus, which hurt its Amer­i­can com­peti­tor Boe­ing.

The rul­ing gives the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion the le­gal right to im­pose counter-mea­sures on the EU in the form of tar­iffs, and prod­ucts tar­geted in­clude wine,cheese­an­do­lives,which are pro­duced in many coun­tries in­volved in the Air­bus con­sor­tium.

Brus­sels has threat­ened to re­tal­i­ate sim­i­larly against US goods, but the EU has said it hopes not have to re­sort to that.

In Scot­land, other goods which would be af­fected in­clude cash­mere, cheese and seafood.

UK govern­ment min­is­ter for Scot­land Colin Clark said that re­sort­ing to tar­iffs was not “in the best in­ter­ests of the UK, EU or US”.

He said: “The whisky in­dus­try is a cor­ner­stone of Scot­land’s econ­omy, em­ploy­ing around 11,000 peo­ple, many in ru­ral ar­eas. The UK govern­ment is work­ing closely with the US, EU and Euro­pean part­ners to sup­port a ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment and avoid these tar­iffs com­ing into force.”

A Num­ber 10 spokesman said that the UK govern­ment was “dis­ap­pointed” the US had re­sorted to tar­iffs, which were “not in any­one’s in­ter­ests”.

The spokesman added that de­spite the tar­iffs af­fect­ing Scotch whisky but not Ir­ish whisky, the dis­pute had “noth­ing to do with trade dis­cus­sions” with the US af­ter Brexit. How­ever a spokesman for the First Min­is­ter said that the tar­iffs “un­der­mined the UK govern­ment ar­gu­ment that one way to off­set the chal­lenge of Brexit would be a very quick, com­pre­hen­sive, trade deal with the US, it’s clear the US isn’t in a mood to ex­empt the UK or Scot­land from these tar­iffs.

He added: “This is the hard re­al­ity that the US plays hard­ball on these is­sues and is not pre­pared to ex­clude the UK be­cause of what’s been said be­tween Trump and John­son. The sug­ges­tion of a free trade agree­ment post-brexit is pretty fa­tally un­der­mined by what’s hap­pened to­day.”


0 Ni­cola Stur­geon says trade wars are in no­body’s in­ter­ests

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