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International Trade

Scotch Whisky is the world's number one internationally traded spirit with exports worth almost £5bn annually. 42 bottles of Scotch Whisky are shipped every second to around 180 global markets, totalling 1.31bn bottles (70cl @40% ABV) in 2019.


Key Markets

Here are some examples of markets where the SWA and our member companies work to improve access to the market for Scotch Whisky.

European Union

With exports worth £1.48bn the EU is the largest single market for Scotch Whisky. Four EU member states - France, Germany, Spain and Latvia - are amongst our Top 10 export markets worldwide. Retaining frictionless access to the EU’s Internal Market post-Brexit and tackling existing or potential trade barriers in the individual Member States is a priority for the SWA.



India is a 300 million-case market for spirits, yet Scotch Whisky accounts for just 1% of the market. This is partly due to the 150% tariff applied by the Government of India, but the country’s federal structure also complicates the market for the industry with responsibility for alcohol devolved to individual states in India, creating in effect 28 separate markets each with differing regulations, taxes and restrictions.

Securing improved market access to India is the Association's number one trade priority.


Brazil is a top market for Scotch Whisky in Latin America, with 43m 70cl bottles exported to the market in 2019. Compared to other markets globally it is the 9th largest market by volume.

As the Brazilian economy has grown over the last decade, spirits consumption has become more diverse with categories such as cachaça and local brandy, whisky, and rum being supplemented with international products such as Scotch Whisky.

We believe Brazil has significant future potential for Scotch Whisky but there are still challenges. A complicated tax structure, high import tariff and a difficult import regime make trade a costly and bureaucratic process. Working to address these issues is a high priority for the SWA. 



China is the largest spirits market in the world and is an important emerging market for the Scotch Whisky industry.  The value of direct exports has grown from under £10 million in the early 2000s to around £89 million in 2019; with increasing prosperity, it has the potential to grow much more. 

The import tariff is low at 5% but access can be complicated. The SWA works with the UK government and spiritsEUROPE colleagues to ensure that Scotch Whisky can be imported smoothly into China. Regulatory proposals can be varied and currently include a Harmonised Export Certificate, a company registration proposal and changes to the existing labelling requirements.


South Africa

South Africa is one of our top 10 export markets and by far the largest market in Africa. Exports in 2019 were worth £108 million. The export of Single Malt Scotch Whiskies has risen in the last few years and they now constitute 4% of total export volume. Retaining tariff-free market access post-Brexit is vital, and the removal of existing non-tariff barriers would improve the trading environment further.

news & commentary

09 June 2020

UK-Japan talks can set tone for international trade ambitions

The SWA comments on the start of UK-Japan trade talks.

02 July 2019

SWA comments on USTR tariff list

22 February 2019

We are recruiting: International Director

SWA is seeking to appoint an International Director. The International Director leads the SWA's team that deals with the Scotch Whisky industry's trade and export market work. This team ensures that the Scotch Whisky industry has fair market access around the world and operates in a competitive global trade environment.

12 February 2019

Scotch Whisky Exports on the up in 2018

Latest figures reveal a strong year for Scotch Whisky exports in 2018 with global growth in both value and volume.

05 February 2019

SWA welcomes US-UK spirits agreement

The Scotch Whisky Association has welcomed the US-UK Spirits Agreement which will protect Scotch Whisky, and other whiskies, in the UK and US markets post-Brexit.

26 August 2018

SWA to join Prime Minister on first visit to Africa

22 May 2018

Tax harmonisation in Turkey achieved

It may have been a long time in coming but finally, in early May, excise taxes for spirits in Turkey were harmonised. The same duty rate now applies to the Turkish national spirit raki as to Scotch Whisky.

03 May 2018

Scotch Whisky looks for continued growth through Brexit

The Scotch Whisky industry's recent growth must be maintained beyond Brexit, delegates at the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) conference heard today.

12 March 2018

Scotch Whisky industry to set out clear calorie information to consumers

The Scotch Whisky Association has welcomed joint proposals by European alcoholic beverage producers on how the industry will provide consumers with nutrition and ingredient information


01 September 2019

Scotch Whisky Exports Analysis 2018

An analysis of exports data for Scotch Whisky in 2018.

23 May 2018

Scotch Whisky Exports Analysis 2017

SWA Analysis of 2017 export figures for Scotch Whisky