The US wanted to loosen the definition of whisky in any free-trade deal, the Scottish government said.
Currently, all whisky sold in the EU must be matured for at least three years. Relaxing the definition would put Scotland’s 20,000 workers in the whisky industry at risk, and would result in a lower quality of product being sold, the Scottish government said.
‘The definition of whisky’
Scottish government economy secretary Keith Brown said: “The US made clear in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership discussions that they would support a relaxation of the definition of whisky, which would open the market up to a number of products which do not currently meet that standard.
“Aside from being a key part of Scottish culture and identity, our whisky industry supports around 20,000 jobs. It is vital that we continue to have robust legal protection of Scotch whisky, which is why I have sought clarification from the UK government as to whether Scotch whisky featured in discussions during last week’s trade visit by the trade secretary.”
The Scotch whisky industry currently employs about 10,000 workers, with another 10,000 in the supply chain. Whisky exports are worth about £4bn to Scotland, Brown said.
Value and reputation
The reported trade deals being considered by the UK government threatened the value and reputation of Scottish produce, added Brown. It was a symptom of the government’s confusing Brexit plan, he said.
“We need to be sure that any future deals work for Scotland, and are not threatening the livelihoods of our farmers and producers,” said Brown. “This is why all four UK governments should have oversight of the negotiations to ensure, as far as possible, that the right outcomes for everyone are secured.”
Meanwhile, the Scotch Whisky Association wanted to cut the 150% tariff that India imposed on imports, if the UK agreed a bilateral trade deal with it.