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.”