Scotch Whisky industry represented on business delegation to Japan

30 Aug 2017

SWA chief executive joins Prime Minister on Japanese visit

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) chief executive Karen Betts is this week joining the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for International Trade as part of a business delegation to Japan, an important and growing market for Scotch.

Exports of Scotch Whisky to Japan were worth £82.2 million last year, an increase of more than 8% on 2015, and up from £57m 10 years earlier in 2006. It is the thirteenth largest overseas market for Scotch.

The SWA said that being part of the business delegation to Japan provides an ideal opportunity to discuss the future trading relationship between the UK and Japan after Brexit to help ensure the market for Scotch continues to grow.

Agreement in principle on a trade deal was recently reached between the European Union and Japan. An important part of this Free Trade Agreement (FTA) for Scotch Whisky would be recognition of the Geographical Indication to protect the industry and consumers. The SWA would like to maintain the trade arrangements of the EU-Japanese deal in the short term and an ambitious FTA between the UK and Japan in the longer term to help provide business certainty and consistency in that market.  

The Scotch Whisky industry is of great strategic importance to the UK. It is a major manufacturing sector supporting 40,000 jobs, adding £5 billion in value across the economy, generating £4bn in exports and is the single biggest net contributor to the UK balance of trade in goods.  But the SWA says industry success must not be taken for granted and the continued success of Scotch Whisky is a litmus test of the UK's exit from the EU.

Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: "Joining the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for International Trade on this important visit provides an excellent opportunity to discuss growing exports to Japan and opening markets after Brexit.

"Scotch Whisky has been popular in Japan for many years and this mature market is now expanding again. Certainty around trading arrangements with Japan after Brexit would help provide confidence and stability for the future. I'm sure this trip to Japan will prove interesting and worthwhile for the Scotch Whisky industry."

In general terms, following Brexit, the SWA would like to see a deep and comprehensive trade deal with the EU that can adjust over time; an open trade policy; frictionless and efficient customs procedures; robust legal protection of Scotch Whisky in the UK, EU, and global markets; business certainty and consistency and a domestic tax and regulatory agenda that delivers a platform for international growth and reduces the 80% tax burden on an average priced bottle of Scotch in the UK.  


With media queries please contact Rosemary Gallagher, Scotch Whisky Association head of communications, 0044 131 222 9230 or 0044 7432 605385, email