Easing of India whisky tariffs dangled in battle for Scottish hearts and minds

Fri 23 Jul 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

International trade minister Liz Truss this week revealed plans to persuade India to remove the 150% tariff on Scotch whisky exports.

The Department for International Trade’s intentions follow the suspension of similar US tariffs on Scotch whisky earlier this year.

With the debate over Scottish independence ongoing, Scotland is a more reluctant engager with the UK’s mission on trade deals.

Speaking at an event in Glasgow, as part of a two-day visit to Scotland, Truss invited Scottish businesses to start engaging with DIT, to help her team with current and future trade deals.

‘Extreme Brexit policy’

However MP Drew Hendry, the SNP's Shadow International Trade spokesperson, said that Truss should “use this visit to Scotland to apologise to the countless businesses who are paying a heavy price due to her government's extreme Brexit policy.

"Time and time again the interests of Scotland's businesses - including Scottish farmers and crofters under the Australia trade deal - have been completely sidelined by the Tory government.”

Truss countered this in an interview with HeraldScotland, emphasising that Scotland would reap “huge benefits” from the post-Brexit trade deals she and her department are negotiating.

Whisky to India

Though services are Scotland’s single biggest export sector (worth £42 billion in 2018), Scotch whisky is arguably the country’s most totemic product and export.

India is already a strong market for Scotch whisky, being home to 18% of the world’s population with a large, whisky-loving middle class.

However, Scotch whisky currently faces a 150% tariff in India, meaning the UK only has a 2% share of the 50 million bottles sold in the country every year, according to the Scotch Whisky Association.

Government consultation

Ahead of trade negotiations with India, the government has launched a consultation with UK businesses, asking for their priorities in these discussions.

The IOE&IT is currently gathering responses from its members for this consultation.