MSP Gil Paterson has appealed directly to the President of the USA to lift damaging tariffs to Scotch Whisky – following a massive 32 per cent reduction in exports to America.
Scotch Whisky was included in a list of European exports of which the USA placed a 25 per cent import tax.
The tariff was in response to the EU subsidising Airbus aircraft manufacturing, to the detriment of Boeing, the US’s major manufacturer.
The Scotch Whisky Association has blamed the tariff, as well as impact of COVID-19, for the 23 per cent drop in exports in 2020. The fall in exports to the USA, the industry’s most valuable market, was 32 per cent, £792m.
The total losses for Scotch Whisky are around £500m, of which could affect jobs and the economic wellbeing in Mr Paterson’s constituency, Clydebank and Milngavie.
Auchentoshan Distillery is based in Clydebank. And furthermore, many constituents are employed in nearby Edrington and Chivas distilleries.
With, Scotch Whisky making up some 21 per cent of all of the UK’s food and drink exports, the MSP also wrote to Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for International Trade, appealing for action to remove the tariff in future trade negotiations with the USA.
Mr Paterson, who recently raised the matter in the Scottish Parliament, is calling for action to save the industry.
He said: “I am appealing directly to President Joe Biden to intervene and help resolve this crisis for Scotch Whisky exports, which is to the detriment of Scotland, the UK and our American customers.
“Scotch Whisky is an innocent victim caught in the crossfire of a trade dispute between the EU and USA it is not involved with in any way.
“What is most worrying is the impact it could have on employment here in Clydebank, as hundreds rely on employment at Auchentoshan Distillery, which is in constituency, and in nearby Edrington and Chivas distilleries.
“It is even more painful as Auchentoshan Distillery, for example, has put profits aside to produce and distribute hand sanitiser for the NHS during this coronavirus crisis – especially at the beginning when the product was scarce.
“What we need is the removal of the tariff along with the restoration of the hospitality industry so we may see this great Scottish industry thrive again.
“Now we are fashioning new trade relations with the USA following leaving the European Union, my hope is that President Biden can help remove this damaging tariff.”
'As we look forward to the potential for everyone in Scotland in 2021 which will surely be an improvement on 2020, and is in all of our hands to make happen, wrote Gil Paterson MSP in the Clydebank Post recently.
With the latest mutation of the coronavirus setting us all back to the early days of the pandemic and escalating infection rates in Clydebank. The bigger picture being that, with over 100,000 deaths attributed to covid-19 in the UK since the start of the outbreak which gives the UK the unenviable title of the country with the highest mortality rate per head of population in the world even worse than the USA and Brazil.
Two chinks of light. People are becoming more aware of the need to follow the behavioural restrictions (unfortunately not all) and the vaccination programme is being run out as quickly as we can secure vaccine. So, to enable our earliest lifting of restrictions I urge everybody to continue following the rules and when offered the vaccination to take up the offer.
With the Brexit withdrawal “deal” finally done and dusted the true horrors of leaving the European Union are being exposed. Like most in Scotland I opposed Brexit primarily for what we would loose and the damage it would do to our core industries but never had I imagined how bad it would be.
Because Scotland’s economic base is different from the South East of England it was assumed that during the withdrawal negotiations the UK Government would take account of these different needs and protect Scottish industry. Sadly, despite numerous representations by the Scottish Government they decided to ignore Scottish concerns and in the final days of the negotiations threw the Scottish fishing industry under the bus after years of promising them a better future. Since the fishing industry represented such a small part of the UK economy, they were considered expendable despite the fact they were integral to the Scottish economy and one of our major exporters.
As well as the fishing industry, food and drinks, farming, tourism and hospitality in Scotland are going to suffer disproportionately from the rest of the UK.
As many of you will know since the tragic murder of Paige Docherty and the subsequent delay in the return of her body to the family because of defence lawyers second post-mortem requests I have been working on a Members Bill to time limit this process so that the deceased are returned for internment within a reasonable timeframe.
Stage 1 of the Scottish Parliament's legislative process was heard last week but unfortunately due to time constraints occasioned by coronavirus business proper evidence taking was not possible and the Bill fell.
The one good thing to come out of my campaigning and raising the issue was that the Crown Office have introduced a protocol which will minimise delay in second post-mortems and improve information sharing. Not the result I had hoped for but certainly better than the situation inherited before I introduced my Members Bill.
A recent joint statement issued by the Scottish and Welsh Governments about the Eramus+ programme has confirmed that they will work together to remain in Erasmus.
This is following much support from across Europe, such as around 150 Members of the European Parliament asking the European Commission to explore how Scotland could continue to take part.
The Scottish and Welsh Government have always been united in their views that participation in Erasmus+ is in the best interests for the whole of the UK and the UK Government’s decision not to associate with it is disappointing. It will reduce opportunities for all learners and cut support for the most deprived communities.
Participation in Erasmus+ has helped transform the lives of thousands of students, schoolchildren, teachers, adult learners and young people, from all across the UK. In Scotland proportionally more participants have gone abroad through Erasmus+ than from anywhere else in the UK, while proportionally more visitors from the rest of Europe have visited Scotland in return. Schools in Wales have led the UK in winning Erasmus+ funding for strategic partnership projects on innovative topics such as green energy, artificial intelligence, and promoting inclusivity in the classroom.
The UK Government’s proposed alternative, by comparison, is a lesser imitation of the real thing. The Turing Scheme, funded at £105 million for one year, pales in comparison to Erasmus+, which has now had its budget for the next seven years increased to €26.2 billion. Turing will offer no funding to the international partners that are needed to allow mobilities to take place unlike Erasmus+, where both parties are awarded funding to facilitate the exchange of learners from one country to another. Turing will also fail to support any of the strategic partnerships currently supported by Erasmus+, which help to build relationships with partners in Europe.
Gil Paterson, MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie said:
“Losing Erasmus is huge blow for students, community groups and adult learners in Milngavie and Bearsden North - from all demographic backgrounds - who can no longer live, study or work in Europe.
“It also closes the door for people to come to Scotland on Erasmus to experience our country and culture and it is heartening to see that loss of opportunity recognised by MEPs from across Europe who want Scotland’s place in Erasmus to continue.
“Withdrawing from Erasmus is highly regrettable and so I welcome this joint commitment from the Scottish and Welsh Governments to explore with the EU how to maximise our continued engagement with the programme.”
Full statement: https://scottishgov-newsroom.prgloo.com/news/erasmus-exchange-programme