As Brexit looms over the Scottish economy, Labour, the unions and business demand a Nissan-style safety net for the whisky industry
“A NISSAN DEAL” is what Scottish Labour is asking the UK Government to provide as Brexit threatens to jeopardise the regional and international markets Scottish whisky thrives in.
Jackie Baillie, economy spokeswoman for the party, wrote to David Mundell the secretary of state for Scotland urging him to advocate a special deal for the industry that has £4bn worth of exports.
The calls were supported by the GMB union and the whisky association which backed any calls and moves to strengthen the position of traders and workers in Scotland.
Their demand refers to the car manufacturer Nissan who obtained secret, confidential, promises from the UK Business Secretary that the UK Government would seek tariff-free access to EU markets for the car industry.
The talks spark outrage and concern that other industries were being prejudiced against and that workers rights were under threat.
“There is a real risk that the industry will lose out to markets in East Asia and South America, because trade agreements in these areas are currently brokered by the European Union.” Jackie Baillie
Scottish Labour economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “The Scotch whisky industry is a key employer in Scotland and right across the whole of the UK, so it’s essential that the UK Government secures a Nissan-style deal to protect jobs. We cannot allow Brexit to put one of our most successful industries at risk.
“Around 80 per cent of the Scotch whisky industry’s contribution to the UK economy comes from exports. There is a real risk that the industry will lose out to markets in East Asia and South America, because trade agreements in these areas are currently brokered by the European Union.”
The scotch whisky industry currently has up to 40,000 jobs across the UK and is worth an estimated bn to the UK economy. However, the majority of its infrastructure, skills and workforce are based in Scotland.
The GMB union has warned that without a deal similar to that offered to the car industry there is a risk of the whisky industry losing out to markets in East Asia and South American, which are currently supported by EU-brokered agreements.
GMB Scotland organiser Louise Gilmour said: “Whisky is a massive success story for Scotland – and the UK – but we need the government to back us up in the months and years ahead.
The scotch whisky industry currently has up to 40,000 jobs across the UK
“Westminster was quick to pledge support for Nissan – which is also vital for the economy – but is frankly dwarfed by the size of the whisky industry.
“We need parity for workers in our whisky industry and the same guarantees that were given to Nissan.”
The whisky industry in Scotland has seen a boom with single malt sales hitting £1bn for the first time at the end of last year.
According to the trade association, the total value of Scotch whisky exported from the UK last year reached £3.999bn. That was a rise from £3.845bn in 2015. The previous three years were above £4bn, peaking in 2012 at £4.283bn. The USA remained the biggest market for the value of sales, rising from £749m to £854m. France remained the biggest importer of Scotch by volume, with 189m bottles. The value of sales in France was £424m, of which single malts made up £153m.
“We need parity for workers in our whisky industry and the same guarantees that were given to Nissan.” Louise Gilmour
Rosemary Gallagher, Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) head of communications, told CommonSpace: “We welcome the support for the Scotch Whisky industry from the GMB union as we deal with the uncertainty created by Brexit. We agree that the success of the industry should not be taken for granted during a time of such change. As a major manufacturer and exporter, the continued growth of Scotch will be a litmus test of the success of the UK’s exit from the EU.
“We want the UK Government to pursue as open a trade policy as possible; secure continued robust protection of Scotch; transpose relevant EU single market legislation into UK law; find opportunities where a distinct UK approach could benefit domestic industry and ensure a domestic tax and regulatory agenda that delivers a platform for international growth.”
Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister, has indicated that she will trigger Article 50 to leave the EU and start negotiations early this month.
Picture courtesy of pac
Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.